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Riding India’s clean and cow free metro

Be careful what you try to take on the Delhi Metro. Signs on stations warn passengers that “human skeletons, ashes and parts of human body” (sic) are prohibited, along with “decayed animal or vegetable matter, or manure of any kind”. Note: of any kind. Quarrelling and travelling on the roof are also forbidden, and “maliciously hurting” fellow passengers can result in life imprisonment.

Next year sees the 30th anniversary of the unveiling of Delhi’s ambitious plans for a Metro system, the city’s biggest structural project since the creation of New Delhi last century. Construction work started in 1998, the first line opened on Christmas Eve 2002, and the ever-expanding network now covers 120 miles and carries up to two million passengers a day.

Clean, fast and efficient, it cuts congestion in this traffic-choked city, in which horn-honking cars, lorries, buses and motor rickshaws jostle for space on roads sometimes built for bullock carts. The six lines run both underground and on flyovers, criss-crossing the city and linking far-flung suburbs. They are invaluable to both commuters and visitors, with stations near many popular tourist sites. And, as on the system’s London counterpart, announcements warn you to: “Please mind the gap.”

On a recent stay in Delhi my wife and I spent a day Metro-hopping, much of it on the Yellow Line, one of the longest and best used. It covers 27 miles in around 90 minutes, running north to south and taking in Old Delhi and New Delhi. At its southern terminus, it also reaches out to Ultra-New Delhi: the burgeoning satellite city of Gurgaon, a consumerist Camelot whose skyscrapers, office blocks and shopping malls tower over what, even 20 years ago, was dusty scrubland where farmers herded their cattle.

We start at Rajiv Chowk, the station under Connaught Place, the commercial centre of New Delhi. At the bottom of the escalators, we are briskly frisked by armed guards and our bags are scanned. Crowds are surging towards the platforms, but in an orderly way, with organised queues to board some trains: amazing in a country where someone once defined a queue as a scrum 30 people wide and one person deep.

Read the full report here, Telegraph UK


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