Airport Metro Express to close from Sunday

Airport Metro Express to close from Sunday

Technical, financial issues responsible for shutdown

Reliance Infrastructure-led Delhi Airport Metro Express will close down on Sunday for an unspecified period, apparently due to technical problems and financial losses.

The move will affect hundreds of passengers who were relying on this corridor to reach the airport without any hassles.

The country’s first public-private partnership Metro project has had a tumultuous journey in the last 16 months after it began operations in February 2011.

“Delhi Metro has received a communication from the concessionaire this evening that they intend to stop services starting Sunday,” said Delhi Metro spokesman Anuj Dayal late on Friday night.
He did not give any reason why Reliance Infrastructure took the extreme step of closing down the Metro services for an unspecified period.

The Reliance Infra-led company has been suffering losses as it was unable to reach its intended targets in terms of profit and ridership. There was no word from the concessionaire too. Efforts to reach Reliance Infra officials failed.

It is understood that the company would come out with a public notice on Saturday, specifying reasons for its step.

Dayal said Delhi Metro will ask Reliance Infra to tell the date by which they will resume services after carrying out rectifications required on the line. The line has also been encountering several technical problems and was unable to run trains at the promised speed of 120 km/ph.

While it was run at 105 km/ph in the beginning, the speed was brought down to 90 km/ph due to technical issues a few months back. The high-speed Metro corridor connects Connaught Place with the swanky Terminal-3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport in just 18 minutes.

The Airport Express Metro currently has a ridership of over 15,000 passengers a day, and is popular among thousands of air passengers who used the Metro to reach the airport without any hassles.

Ever since it was opened to public, Delhi Metro has been vocal in criticising it and its former chief E Sreedharan had once even threatened to take over the line if Reliance Infra did not improve on a number of aspects within a limited period.

The Airport Metro was also unable to attract the number of commuters it intended to in the last one year and thus, suffered losses.

During a media interaction in May, Delhi Metro chief Mangu Singh had said the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation was not happy with the performance of the Airport Express as it feels the network is being run in a “commercial manner”.

“Yes, there are shortcomings and they are not up to our expectations and there is no doubt about that. But there is recession and their business model is really not working,” he had said.

The Airport Express Corridor, which connects New Delhi with IGI Airport, is mainly based on property development, real estate and retail.

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