Thursday, February 16, 2012

Travel: THE ‘METRO’ EXPERIENCE


Delhi Metro

Well, I had saved the best experience for the last one during my Delhi Trip. The Delhi Metro is simply awesome as it gets you from Point A to B in just no time.

The first time I travelled by Metro was in Singapore when I went there with my family in November 1999. Yeah, so long ago!

Singapore Metro in 1999 with Vignesh
The Karol Bagh Metro Station was barely 20 minutes walk from Hotel Jewel Palace, where we were staying. Or a cycle rickshaw could take us in about 7-8 minutes for Rs. 10.

Vini at Karol Bagh Metro Station on our way up to the platform
Once there, we could take a Metro line to just anywhere in Delhi. Sometimes, of course, we needed to change lines. What catches one's eye the most is the neatness and cleanliness, both in the trains and stations. The Delhi Metro started functioning since December 2002. It's wonderful to see how clean everything is. I was totally impressed.

That's me on the other side. Don't miss the cleanliness
There are six different lines in the Delhi Metro and they intersect at various points. There is the Red Line, Yellow Line, Blue Line, Orange Line, Green Line and Violet Line – almost all the colours in the rainbow, it looks like.

I got a chance to travel by the Blue Line that runs through Karol Bagh Metro Station. Rajiv Chowk Metro Station is an important junction where the Blue Line and the Yellow Line intersect. I went to this station a number of times to travel further elsewhere.

The Yellow Line and Violet Line intersect at Central Secretariat. I went there to take the Violet Line to Kalkaji Mandir Metro Station to reach Baha’i Temple.

The map of Delhi Metro at Akshardham Metro Station
The staff at the ticket counter is very helpful in giving directions. You will find maps at strategic points in every station, giving you an idea of how to get where you want to go.

The Delhi Metro is too convenient and it’s a pleasure to travel within the air-conditioned coaches. They felt so warm after the cold wave outside. There are long seats along the walls inside with standing space in the middle.

The coaches were extremely cosy
An announcement system gives you exact directions as to where you are, which is the next station and which places are nearby to that particular station. They also announce on which side the doors will open.

There is also an electronic map in every compartment showing the direction in which the train is travelling, which stations are already crossed and which will be the next port of call.

The electronic map inside the compartment
There are separate compartments for women. The connecting doors are all opened up after around 9 pm to join the compartments together. The metro lines function from 6 am to 11 pm.

The best part is the fares are so reasonable. You travel for about 20-25 stations paying about Rs. 20. I am not sure about the ticketing for kids. But the system is built in such a way that people need to buy a ticket – a token or coin, actually – to travel by metro. You reach the ticket counter, buy the token, scan it against a machine to enter the platform and feed the token into a machine when you get out at your destination. The automated gateway opens only when your token is fed within.

Sign on platform floor indicating the position of women's compartment
There was a funny incident that happened when I got off at  Kalkaji Mandir Metro Station. There was this woman with a kid. He seemed to be about four years of age. She had obviously not bought a ticket for him. Usually, the gateway opens when the token is fed and one person can step out before it shuts immediately. She gave him her token; he fed it in the machine and walked out. The gate shut before she could get out. She stood there, unable to get out. I don’t really know what happened after that as a counter clerk was doing his best to help her.

The queue for security check and across is the way into the platform at Karol Bagh Metro Station
The security is very tight at the metro stations. I am not sure whether this is always the case or whether it was due to the approach of the Republic Day. There were a number of security personnel roaming about. Otherwise too, all bags are scanned while people go through security check, however long the queue is or whatever the time of day it is.

There are a number of facilities available at the metro stations. Food and beverage stalls are there while clean toilets are found in every station. Lifts, escalators and staircases galore are found at the metro stations. You will find slogans everywhere encouraging people to use the stairs to keep fit. This was meant for me, I am sure. I climbed 8-10 floors of staircases everyday that I was in Delhi. That’s mainly because I am not very enthusiastic about climbing an escalator and the lifts are usually at one end of the station and it became too much going in search of them. Of course, directions were given everywhere.

In fact, at stations where the different lines intersect, directions are given in a beautiful way. You can see stickers of yellow feet walking in one direction and blue feet in the opposite direction. You follow the stickers and land up at the correct platform.

Metro is a great way to travel for physically challenged people too. The lifts are large enough to take in wheelchairs while the trains themselves are on the same level as the platforms. This makes getting in a breeze. The compartments are large enough to hold a wheelchair.

Seating inside the coach
You may find people from different strata of society. Men wearing three piece suits to work, college students, housewives on shopping sprees, people on their way to weddings wearing silk clothes and jewellery, labourers on their way to work, so on and so forth.

I saw another sight that truly impressed me at Central Secretariat Metro Station. That is the starting point for the Violet Line. The Yellow Line also intersects here. The platform is marked where the doors to the compartments should be. People stand here in long queues. Watching them are security personnel. Believe it or not, there is one security guard for every doorway. They ensure that people do not break queues and also make sure that those getting out are given first opportunity. This is simply amazing.

Another day at Karol Bagh Metro Station
Of course, the need for this disciplining can be easily understood. For all the sophistication the metro has to offer, the public is still the same – whether educated or not, whether young or old. Everyone tries to rush into the train the moment it arrives. No one seems to be bothered that there are those waiting to get out. And the most important point is that the trains wait at every station for 2-3 minutes; the automated doors will not shut as people get in or out. So, why the rush? Of course, there is no push and pull as in Mumbai Local Trains. The metro compartments have double doors and the entrances are so wide. If people used their common sense, they could come out from one half while people can get in through the other half. It obviously needs a man-with-a-gun to ensure order. The sad truth is that’s how we are!

Another fascinating thing I noticed about the metro is that there are times the train is travelling way above the city and there are times when they travel underground. But not once did I feel the train going up or down a slope. Amazing!

But the brakes are not that great. The trains jerk 2-3 times before they reach or leave a station. Don’t know why!

I can’t wait for Mumbai Metro to launch!

Website: DELHI METRO

7 comments:

  1. Nice Delhi Metro. This year I'm going to visit India. And i must have been to Delhi. So good to know about Delhi and Delhi Metro.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the comment. Have a good trip!

      Delete
  2. amazng, very useful :)
    Diti Shah

    ReplyDelete
  3. excellent review on metro train.....it is the Shaan of Delhi City

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for those words of encouragement Aishwarya :)
      and also your continuous support

      Delete
  4. Yeah Delhi metro is too good. In fact one of Ranga's friend said he had used the metro in New York, London and China and still finds Delhi metro best of the lot! I had a great time in the metro as it was my only mode of transport for a week from Gurgaon to different places in Delhi! And I did not find the need to ask anybody for directions anytime. like you said, the directions are given everywhere and very very user friendly.
    Security, i found was very tight even during my visit in September and bags were scanned always.
    I am also looking forward to Chennai metro (only in 2014) and already wondering if the transition from underground to higher level will be as good as in Delhi!

    ReplyDelete