Fog hits Delhi, disrupts flights, trains (Second Lead)

December 26th, 2010 - 5:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 26 (IANS) Dense fog over Delhi Sunday morning disrupted flight and train schedules, leaving thousands of passengers stranded in the cold at the airport and at railway stations. While services resumed hours later, commuters had to bear the brunt of the huge backlog.

The fog descended on the national capital late Saturday, leading to a sharp drop in visibility, disrupting international and domestic flights at the airport here. But by 1 p.m., the Low Visibility Procedures (LVP) were terminated.

“Low Visibility Procedures (LVP), which were enforced from 7.40 p.m. yesterday (Saturday) and which were in operation till Sunday morning are now terminated and the flights which were delayed will resume as the visibility has improved slightly,” an airport official said.

According to airport officials, 38 flights were cancelled, out of which seven were domestic flights. As many as 42 flights were diverted of which 28 were domestic and 14 international.

“The flights were not rescheduled,” the official said.

Passengers at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport complained about mismanagement and lack of information in the morning.

“My flight to Jaipur was scheduled at 9 a.m. and when I reached the airport at 6.30 a.m. I was told the flight has been cancelled…I think the airline authorities have a duty to inform passengers about delays and cancellations,” said Rajat Kumar, a software professional.

Many passengers kept waiting at the airport for hours without any information about their flights.

The general visibility Saturday night had dropped below the required level of 50 metres, forcing airport authorities to implement the LVP.

The Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) official said that the technologically superior CAT (category) IIIB ILS, which allows compliant aircraft and trained pilots to land even when the runway visibility is at 50 metres, could not cope with the conditions below that level and therefor certain flights were disrupted.

As far as train services were concerned, 51 trains were delayed by anywhere between one to 27 hours because of the fog, an official statement said. The Gujjar agitation in Bayana in Rajasthan also contributed to the train disruption, it added.

Among the trains delayed were the Jansadharan Express, the Katihar Express, the Purshottam Express, the Brahmaputra Mail and the AP Express. The Gujarat Sampark Kranti was delayed by 27 hours.

One train was rescheduled while two were cancelled.

Northern Railway announced its helpline numbers which people could call to find out train information. For trains from New Delhi Railway Station, the number is 011-237440452, for Old Delhi it’s 011-23967322 and for Nizamuddin Railway Station it is 011-24355964.

“Our railway officers and administrative staff are manning railway stations round-the-clock,” a railway official said.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that the thick blanket of fog, which brough visibility to near zero Sunday morning, would clear up later in the day.

The minimum temperature recorded was 7 degrees Celsius, a notch below the average for this time of the season. The maximum is expected to hover around 20 degrees Celsius, an IMD official said.

He added that the temperatures would fall further due to snowfall in the Himalayas.

The coldest day of the season so far was Dec 22 with a minimum temperature of 5.2 degrees Celsius.

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