Over 30,000 passengers travels in 61 trips, MMRDA collects over Rs 3 Lakh on first day
Mumbai: A pink train on tracks is a rare sight for Mumbaikars used to commuting in crowded trains. But on Sunday, India’s first monorail – which will flaunt three colours — was thrown open to public.
For the first month, the train will cover a stretch of 8.93 km in 15 minutes. This stretch between the central suburb of Wadala and that of the east, Chembur, usually takes 40 minutes by suburban trains. The train which will have four coaches can carry 560 passengers.
Like in the U.S., Germany, China, Japan, Australia and Malaysia — countries that run monorail — the Mumbai monorail too has doors that shut automatically, automated fare collection, constant CCTV surveillance, security counters and baggage scanners. The trains can handle sharp curves much better than normal trains and the Metros.
According to officials, six trains will begin operating along the route at intervals of 15 minutes during the first month from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. “After seeing the travel patterns, we will increase the frequency. The hours will be like the railway system from 5 a.m. to midnight. The fares will be between Rs 5 and Rs 11,” said Ashwini Bhide, additional commissioner of Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). “A season pass or return tickets will not be available like in the railway system. But one can avail of smartcards,” she added.
The overall monorail project covers a 19.17 km stretch in the Chembur-Wadala-Jacob Circle corridor, which will be the second longest corridor with 17 stations. The longest one is Japan’s Osaka Monorail. Mumbai monorail will be painted in three colours — pink, green and blue. The monorail stations will also have fire-resistant technology. Floorings and parts of interiors can resist fire for about half an hour. In case of a fire, the train pilot can drive the passengers to the next station to safety within two minutes. In case of a breakdown, there will be two possibilities. A train can either be sent on the same track and the former pulled out. Alternatively, passengers can go to another train on the parallel track. The monorail has been built by a consortium of engineering conglomerate — Larsen and Toubro Ltd and Malaysia-based Scomi Engineering Bhd. It is owned and operated by MMRDA. The entire project cost is Rs 3,000 crore, of which Rs 1,100 crore have been spent on the first phase. Officials said that the second phase is likely to take another year. MMRDA commissioner U.P.S. Madan said that the aim is to have seamless travel. “We are in the process of connecting the monorail stations to existing railway stations and upcoming metro stations. We are in talks with the (Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking) BEST who are likely to reroute their services to increase connectivity.”
However, transport expert Sudhir Badami was critical and said that the monorail is an expensive system catering to a small number of people. “The government should have first addressed the existing railway system where lakhs of people travel. The Bus Rapid Transit System would have bee cheaper and implementable in a short span. The monorail may not be the incentive for people to give up their cars and take to public transport because they may be travelling longer distances,” he said. Mumbaikars gave an overwhelming response to the first day today of Mumbai Mono Rail as they turned in a large numbers at all stations between Wadala and Chembur. Amidt rising crowd, the mono rail missed the deadline of 7 am and was delayed by an hour. Ticket windows were full to their capacities as commuters were standing in a long queuewith an hope for their maiden journey in an air conditioned coaches. For majority of the commuters of Mumbai life line-the Central Railways, Western Railways and Harbour Railways, it was altogether a different experience as the space was limited compared to their EMU (electric multiple unit) trains. This apart, the doors were opened and closed automatically. The four coach train has a capacity of 560 passengers though some of them were making efforts in vain to find space. However, they were stopped by the security personnel to avoid over crowding. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), which is a town planning body and a nodal agency for city’s infrastructure up-gradation projects, had to swing into action in view of the burgeoning crowd. MMRDA joint project director Dilip Kawathkar said: “MMRDA has closed all the mono rail stations on 8.93 km Wadala-Chembur route today at 2.30 pm. However, those who were standing in the queue at ticket counters in station area were issued tokens for travelling. The train operations were extended up to 5 pm. MMRDA would like to appeal to the public that mono rail services will resume as usual at 7 am on Monday. Mumbaikars are requested to cooperate and enjoy the ride responsibly.” He said over 30,000 passengers travelled in 61 trips on the first day today. The day’s collection was over Rs 3 lakh. Kawathkar made it clear that the trains will be operated during 7 am and 3 pm from tomorrow onwards. Maharashtra Security Force personnel had a tough time to control the crowd while maintaining the security at all stations. On Saturday the mono rail’s operations were formally launched by the chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. During February, MMRDA has already declared that mono rail will run between 7 am and 3 pm and after taking into account the response the second shift will be launched in March. MMRDA said currently four tains will operate which will increase to six after March to have 19 hours of operation per day.