It’s fast, air-conditioned and pelts over some of the biggest, semi-permanent traffic jams in the national capital
At Delhi Airport, eighty rupees travels a long way, or not too far; it depends on you. Eighty rupees is what it costs to enter the airport premises if you wish to receive or see somebody off. Eighty rupees gets you a samosa and a can of soft drink, or a sandwich without a soft drink in the open dusty area outside the entry gates to the airport.
Eighty rupees does not get you parking space for too long, and that's in the non-premium areas. But eighty rupees gets you from Terminal 3 to the heart of Central Delhi, a distance of about 20 km, in around 17-18 minutes in brilliant comfort, with an above-treetop view of the Ridge forests, something not seen before.
It's your machan in the sky, and it must be something around sunrise or sunset-an eagle's eye view. At a frequency of 12-15 minutes, from early morning through late night, this is something everybody needs to try at least once before passing judgement in the back seat of their cars.
Welcome to the Delhi Airport Express Metro train. Unlike its bigger and perenially crowded sibling, the Delhi Metro, this is a speciality, high-speed train with ample seating and luggage capacity linking the airport to Central Delhi, as well as New Delhi Railway Station, for travel beyond on one side and Dwarka sub-city on the other.
Fast, air-conditioned, and at three points (Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway, Delhi Cantonment T Junction, and the Dhaula Kuan clover leaf) it simply pelts over some of the biggest, semi-permanent traffic jams in Delhi. Stuck in a car, this writer would often look up in awe as first one, then a second one, and often a third train, at intervals of 15 minutes or less, went past, while we crawled on the road below.
Despite all these plus points, the majority of people heading to and from Delhi Airport still tend to use the taxi or car option, a majority apparently from force of habit, or some other reason, and I was determined to find out why. After all, public transport in Delhi has improved by leaps and bounds; nearly two million people use the Delhi Metro and about half a million use the new revamped DTC and other low-floor bus services. This, therefore, is what I did.
DTC route 490, Lajpat Nagar to New Delhi RS Gate # 2 = Rs15 (non-AC). New Delhi Railway Station is well connected to the rest of the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) and the country by bus, metro and train. There is also a direct air-conditioned underground entry from the railway platforms to the Airport Express terminal, by-passing the usual chaos outside the above-ground Ajmeri Gate side entrance.
Delhi Airport Express Metro, New Delhi to T3 Delhi Airport = Rs80. Brilliantly clean and air-conditioned, with a segment in the middle that literally flies over the greenest part of Delhi, the Ridge, till shortly before the airport, where it goes underground again. However, with external ambients changing from about 10-15 °C underground to well over 40 °C outside, the air-conditioning fights a battle on this front in the summers.
The DTC Airport City connecting buses are free, operated by helpful DTC staff at T3, and they connect all parts of the NCR, including Gurgaon and Noida/Ghaziabad, as well as Kashmere Gate and other interstate bus terminals (ISBTs). By air-conditioned low-floor buses, fares various and cheap.
By the Delhi Airport Express Metro from T3 to Dwarka 21 to New Delhi it is Rs80. (Sponsored by Reliance Infrastructure.)
Delhi Metro, New Delhi Railway Station to Lajpat Nagar, is extremely crowded throughout the day. As one Delhi Metro platform supervisor explained, people have parked their motorcycles and cars at home due to high fuel prices and are now using the Metro. True.
Public transport in Delhi has gone through a major evolution over the past few years. From being a tonga-cycle fort city, to a car-centric suburb busting city, the focus appears to be to try and make things better for those who use public transport, and as such there is much work on all the separate components.
Local trains on a hub-and-spoke concept, using the Delhi Avoiding Line renamed "Ring Railway"; Delhi Metro of course has changed the sociological face of the city; large numbers of low-floor buses, easy availability of radio and conventional taxis; now the Airport Express train. Brilliant is just one word. There is absolutely no reason to take a private vehicle to the centre of the city if you don't want to, anymore, most of the time.
The problem, as always, lies with the inter-modal exchange of people between different forms of transport. Railways or metro to bus, and vice-versa, is still a sore point at most places, mainly because VIP culture dictates that the buses should be parked far away, making the maximum number of people walk the longest distance, while the parking and circulation areas nearer the station entry/exit are "grabbed" for VIPs.
In addition, there is this inner resistance against public transport. Why else would babudom still insist on coming to the airport in their convoy of cars, when the Airport Express gets them there in minutes?
The Delhi Airport Express, for example, at the Delhi airport end, is apparently a victim of some sort of strategy by GMR, the entity that operates the airport. Clearly, the idea is to maximise the revenue from parking of cars and taxis. So, confusing and even non-existent signage seems to push people towards the comfort zone of private cars and taxis. The absence of any sort of customer service counter for the Airport Express Metro train service above-ground, in the open circulation area is another issue. Potential users have to go down into the bowels of the terminal, pass another security checkpost, get everything checked, and only then do they reach a customer service desk. On the other hand, multiple counters guiding people towards the radio taxis and parking lots dominate the horizon, with more signs.
Likewise, at the New Delhi Railway Stations end, the entry from the Ajmeri Gate side is almost invisible. Apart from being surrounded by what appears to be a huge open air toilet-cum-junkies rest area. Yes, once you head underground, it feels like you are in a different country altogether. But if you are with family and baggage, then the sheer thought of wrestling over uneven land full of potholes, and nobody knows what else, is daunting. This, incidentally, is a stretch that is just about 30-40 m long. But it is like hell.
Regardless, if you are the quintessential business traveller, heading for Central Delhi, or beyond, with light hand baggage over your shoulders and a song in your heart, then don't look beyond the fast new train to town.
Here are a few suggestions:
# CCTV feed from the front and rear on to the LED monitors already provided inside the cabins.
# Arm rests between seats, as well as folding tables for seats at ends.
# A speedometer indicating actual speeds achieved.
# Positioning of radio taxis at the New Delhi Railway Station end.
# Drivers to be asked to honk whenever they see traffic jams below.
For those headed towards South Delhi, Noida, Faridabad, the station is Dhaula Kuan.
For those headed for the government offices in the secretariat area and North Delhi, the station is Shivaji Stadium.
For those headed to connect to the other railway stations or bus terminals, Central Delhi or East Delhi, the station is New Delhi Railway Station.
For those headed for West Delhi or old Gurgaon, the station is Dwarka sector 21.
Kingfisher Airlines, however, said that it has already obtained long-term funds amounting to more than Rs475 crore and is exploring various options of external funding
New Delhi: Vijay Mallya-led loss-making air carrier Kingfisher Airlines will need to infuse more funds if its wants to stay afloat, reports PTI quoting the company's auditors.
Noting that the net worth of the airlines has been 'completely eroded', Kingfisher's auditor BK Ramadhyani & Co said it would need fresh funds to meet its obligations.
"The financial statements of the company having been prepared on a going concern basis, notwithstanding the fact that its net worth is completely eroded."
"The appropriateness of the said basis is inter alia dependent on the company's ability to infuse requisite funds for meeting its obligations," according to the comments of the auditor which forms part of the annual report for 2010-11.
The audit report also pointed out that the company's accumulated losses at the end of the financial year were more than 50% of its net worth.
"The company has incurred cash losses during the financial year and in the immediately preceding financial year," it said.
Kingfisher Airlines, however, said that it has already obtained long-term funds amounting to more than Rs475 crore and is exploring various options of external funding.
"Since the start of the year, long-term funds amounting to over Rs475 crore have been infused into the company.
Simultaneously, the company is exploring capital raising either through GDR or by way of rights/domestic follow-on offering," it said in a statement.
In August, Kingfisher Airlines had informed the Bombay Stock Exchange that its board has approved raising of Rs2,000 crore through a rights issue.
In the quarter ended 30 June 2011, the net loss of the Kingfisher Airlines widened by 40.66% to Rs263.54 crore, mainly due to increased fuel expenses.
DSP BlackRock MF new issue closes on 19th September
DSP BlackRock Mutual Fund has launched DSP BlackRock FMP-Series 12-12M, a close-ended income scheme.
The investment objective of the scheme is to generate returns and capital appreciation by investing in a portfolio of debt and money market securities.
The new issue closes on 19th September. The minimum investment amount is Rs5,000.