Airport Express Line scripts 'turnaround': DMRC

Often dubbed as a flop project, the Delhi Metro’s Airport Express Line has finally shown signs of a “turnaround” with nearly 50 per cent jump in its ridership over the previous year, following a string of measures.

These include the latest move of smart card inter-portability between the Airport Express Line and other corridors, reduction of fares by over 40 per cent and increasing the frequency of trains.

The premium line had its own smart cards and tokens earlier, valid only for the six stations on the 23-km corridor. It takes about 15 minutes to reach the Airport from the New Delhi Metro station.
"We have bucked the whole perception of private companies being more efficient <g data-gr-id="38">then</g> the public sector. With proper management and planning a turnaround story can be scripted it shows," a senior Metro official said.

<g data-gr-id="36">While</g> in March 2014, a daily ridership of 12,468 was recorded, it has gone up to 19,466 a year later, an increase of nearly 7,000.

For nearly two years, the authorities struggled to increase the ridership on the corridor, which was taken over by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) from Reliance Infrastructure on July 2013 due to high fares and several logistical issues.

Interestingly, the average daily ridership in April, when smart card <g data-gr-id="31">inter-operability</g> was yet to be made operational, was 17,371. It rose by 13 <g data-gr-id="32">per cent</g> within a month.

The fares that were slashed by over 40 per cent in July last year also resulted in a marked improvement in its popularity. As per the revised structure, the minimum fare on the corridor is now Rs 20 instead of Rs  30 and the maximum <g data-gr-id="41">has</g> been brought down to Rs 100 from Rs 180.

According to data provided by DMRC, the ridership figure of July 2013 was 3,12,132 with <g data-gr-id="40">corresponding</g> average daily ridership of 10,069. By November 2014, the ridership had jumped to 5,38,293 taking the average daily ridership close to 18,000, as per official data.

Total daily train trips on the corridor have been increased to 168 from 148 upping the frequency on the corridor from 15 minutes to 10 minutes 30 seconds during peak hours.

DMRC took over operations of the Airport link, also known as Orange Line, in July 2013 after Reliance Infrastructure's subsidiary Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Ltd (DAMEPL) terminated its concessionaire agreement.

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