After a three-year delay, India’s first monorail had its inaugural run on Saturday from Wadala to Chembur with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan flagging it off at 3.47 pm.
A bright pink train with light pink interiors, decked in flowers, rolled out of the Wadala monorail station ferrying Chavan, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, mediapersons and employees of the Mumbai Monorail, amid claps and cheers from the passengers. On parts of the route, residents of Chembur were looking out of their balconies or standing on their terraces with cameras, waving to the train as it passed them.
“It is difficult to implement a mass transit project in a congested city like Mumbai. It did take more time than expected. People had to be rehabilitated. We don’t have a map to tell us the exact location of all underground utilities in Mumbai. However, despite these odds, the Chembur-Wadala phase has been completed. The second phase will also be operational within a year,” Chavan said.
“We would have been happy if the Prime Minister could have come to inaugurate the monorail. However, he had a busy schedule and we thought it would not be right to keep the people of Mumbai waiting for a mass transit project to be opened for use,” he added.
The 8.8-km Chembur-Wadala monorail is the first phase of the 19.5-km Chembur-Wadala-Jacob Circle monorail corridor. The first phase, which has seven stations, has been constructed at a cost of Rs 1,100 crore, while the second phase will be constructed at a cost of Rs 1,900 crore. The Mumbai Monorail, which is the second-longest in the world after Japan’s Osaka, has a carrying capacity of 562 passengers.
The inaugural run on Saturday took passengers to the Chembur monorail station from where people proceeded to Gandhi Maidan for a formal inauguration ceremony. As the doors of the four-coach monorail India’s first Monorail begins run in city rake opened for passengers to step in, there was a huge rush with people jostling in order to get in and grab a good seat. The situation was similar while alighting from the train and exiting the station.
Pawar said, “We are used to our local trains that have no doors. The trains are filled beyond their capacity and people push and shove to get inside the train. It is not the same with the monorail. Everything is automatic. Doors shut automatically and the train doesn’t move if the doors are not shut. There was such a huge rush in getting inside the train today even in front of us. Please don’t behave like that henceforth.”
The chief minister also made an appeal to the gathered public to keep the stations clean and litter-free. “People will walk into these stations and form an impression about Mumbaikars. We don’t want to make a bad impression on people with dirt and paan-stained stations. Respect the facilities that have been given to you,” he said.
The Monorail will be open to the public from Sunday 7 am onwards. The service will, for now, run from 7 am to 3 pm with there being one train every 15 minutes. Later, the monorail will run for 19 hours a day with the frequency being increased to one train every nine minutes. The minimum fare for the Chembur-Wadala monorail will be Rs 5 and the maximum will be Rs 11.