Fog is back, plays havoc with Delhi flights, train services (Lead)

January 6th, 2009 - 8:18 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 6 (IANS) Fog continued to play havoc with air traffic and rail services in the capital Tuesday. Flights were delayed, and important trains like the Rajdhani Express on the Delhi-Sealdah sector running across north Indian plains were cancelled.The Delhi airport operator, Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), in a statement said over 183 flights were delayed because these had to operate in low-visibility conditions. Some flights were delayed by up to five hours.

Eight flights were diverted, while three flights were rescheduled and over four cancelled.

Though runway visibility stabilised by noon, evening flights such as the SpiceJet service to Kolkata were delayed by two hours, said an airport official.

This, despite the Runway Visibility Range (RVR) at 4 p.m being 2,500 metres, much higher than the accepted limits to operate flights.

Railway services were similarly in a mess.

An official of the Northern Railways said, “Nearly 80 percent of the trains were running behind schedule because of the heavy fog.”

Even the railways’ phone information services broke down, with a recorded message admitting it could not cope with the “abnormal weather conditions”.

As a result, passengers and their companions had no choice but to stand in the cold on platforms. The only people who benefited were tea stall owners as they plied unending rounds of tea and coffee to the stranded passengers at railway platforms.

The Railways’ prestige train, the Rajdhani Express, which was scheduled to depart for Howrah start from New Delhi at 5 p.m. Sunday, finally left at 5 a.m. Monday and reached Howrah at 4 a.m. Tuesday, 17 hours behind schedule for a journey normally takes 18 hours.

“After a rainfall, a thick fog the next day is expected. This is because there is a lot of moisture in the air,” an official of the India Meteorological department (IMD) told IANS. The national capital experienced a light drizzle early Monday.

The minimum temperature Tuesday morning was a degree above average, at 8.4 degrees Celsius, but a cold breeze made it seem more chilly than it was.

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