Jayalalithaa inaugurates country's sixth metro rail service
Shivani Chaturvedi | June 29, 2015 | Chennai
Priya stood in the queue to buy ticket for the first journey on Chennai metro rail on its first day run from Alandur to Koyamabedu, an hour after TN Chief minister J Jayalalithaa launched the metro via video conferencing on Monday.
"I will not be a regular commuter on metro but wanted to experience the metro ride on the first day," said Priya.
Housewife Priya’s enthusiasm was running through Chennai like metro ride.
Sujith and Satish came all the way from Tambaram to enjoy the first day’s first ride. Srinivasan, a resident of Chrompet has travelled in Delhi metro but the launch of metro in Chennai is like dream come true for him. "Travelling in Metro is not a new experience for me. But I came to enjoy ride on the first day as metro has started in my city," said Srinivasan.
For eighty-year-old PN Manivasakam, who came in high spirits to enjoy first day first ride, the experience was not so good. "There are no facilities for aged people. I have been standing at the station for so long as my son is in the queue to buy tickets. There are no chairs to sit; there is no water facility and no fans. Authorities should improve the amenities at the station," said Manivasakam.
A large number of people gathered at Alandur metro station to enjoy the ride the very first day. "By 2 pm I issued SMART cards to more than 200 people," said the employee at the counter. However, many faced inconvenience as two out of three ticket vending machines at the station went out of order. But this did not stop people from taking metro ride. They waited there for the machines to get repaired.
For Mahadevan and Sharanya, who works in private firm in Ashok Nagar locality, the metro would save lot of travelling time. "Travelling by two-wheeler becomes hectic. We have been waiting for the Metro since a long time," said Mahadevan.
The Chennai metro launch was much awaited and it was also cleared a few months ago. What has been started on Monday is the overhead stretch, from Alandur in southern Chennai to Koyambedu which houses the inter-state bus terminus as also a vegetable wholesale market, a distance of 10 km. The metro would cover this distance in 19 minutes and there will be a metro train service every 10 minutes. This 19 minutes included the stoppage time of the train in six stations.
By road, when traffic is smooth the same distance can be covered in 45 minutes. And if there is congestion, there is no saying how long it can take to cover the same 10 km distance.
Eventually, this track would be extended till the airport, which is about 5 km from Alandur.
This stretch is part of the Phase 1 of 45 kms, which when completed would have 32 stations. The Chennai metro project, phase I, is now expected to cost Rs 20000 crore as against an initial estimate of Rs 14,600 crore. The Phase I would have two corridors -- Washermenpet to Airport -- 23.1 kms and another one from Chennai Central to St.Thomas Mount -- 22 kms.
"One key issue is that there's a lot still to be done in terms of last-mile connectivity—particularly the quality of the footpaths near the stations," said Christopher Kost, technical director of Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), Chennai.
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