After endless postponements & delays, it seems the days of Chennai Metro Rail fast approaching

Chennai (MAS): Ever since Chennaiites first visualised Metro Rail trains zooming by in the city and realised how it would revolutionise travel within, they have dreamt of riding the metro to work and home. And, this dream has never been as close to realisation as it is now.

On Tuesday, the announcement from the Ministry of Urban Development amending the Metro Rail General Rules, 2013 to allow operations on single line came as a huge relief.

After several discussions among organisations including Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety (CMRS) and Ministry of Civil Aviation, a decision was made to amend the rules. So, from Koyambedu to Ashok Nagar, Chennai Metro will run with operations on both tracks and from then on till Alandur, in a single track.

Just after the acquittal of AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa last week, commuters were excited about the prospects of the project and they immediately took to social media to express it. Anirudh, for instance, said, “Jaya out means good things like new schemes and Chennai Metro opening.”

After the conviction of Ms. Jayalalithaa, speculation had been rife, linking this with the delay in inaugurating the service.

But the truth is, the project had run into several problems even before this. In 2009, the Chennai Metro Rail had an ambitious start with towering expectations from the public; but as the construction progressed, the project ran into various hurdles ranging from cash crunch faced by contractors to the delay in construction and land acquisition.

The project suffered a setback when Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) terminated one of the important contracts awarded to Consolidated Construction Consortium Limited (CCCL) that was involved in the construction of stations including Koyambedu, CMBT, Arumbakkam and Alandur in January last year. This contractor had grappled with labour issues and constantly missed deadlines during the course of construction. Owing to this fiasco, new contractors had to be appointed and the much-awaited October 2014 and the subsequent March 2015 deadlines were missed.

Now, after such disappointments, clarity has emerged. It looks taking a ride on the first Metro Rail service may happen soon.


The path so far

  • June 2009 : Chennai Metro Rail launched with a cost estimate of Rs. 14,600 crore
  • December 2011: Two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) from China shipped to the country
  • July 2012: Work on first tunnel from Nehru Park to Egmore – a distance of 948 metres – commences
  • May 2013: The city’s first Metro Rail train came from Port of Santos, Brazil
  • November 2013: Chennai Metro Rail makes its first ever test run
  • December 2013: First TBM completes tunnel
  • January 2014: First trial run of Chennai Metro Rail from Koyambedu depot
  • April 2015: Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety (CMRS) gives conditional clearance to Chennai Metro Rail to run services between Koyambedu and Ashok Nagar
  • May 19, 2015: CMRS gives clearance for operations from Koyambedu to Alandur


Corridors

  • Corridor I: Washermenpet to Airport: 23.1 km
  • Corridor II: Chennai Central to St.Thomas Mount: 22.0 km
  • Total 45.1 km.


A day in the life of a Metro

  • Passenger capacity of each train: 1,200
  • Average speed of train: 34 kmph
  • Trains will stop for 30 seconds in each station.


Estimated time of journey

  • Washermanpet to Chennai Airport: 45 minutes to one hour
  • Chennai Central to St. Thomas Mount: 40 minutes
  • Koyambedu to St. Thomas Mount: 20 minutes
  • Duration of services: 19 hours a day (5 AM to Midnight)
  • Nearly 50-75 percent of reduction in travel time depending on road condition.


Estimated project cost: Rs.14,600 crores.

Phase II

  • In February 2014, the State government set aside Rs. 36,000 crore for Phase II. The three corridors will stretch over 76 km.
  • Corridors III: Madhavaram to Light House (17 km)
  • Corridor IV: Koyambedu to Injambakkam (27 km)
  • Corridor V: Madhavaram to Perumbakkam (32 km)
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