After missing over 20 deadlines since December 2015, the second phase of the Monorail connecting Wadala to Jacob Circle is set to begin its services at 6 pm on Sunday. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will flag off the new phase of the Monorail.
Citing its connectivity to railway stations, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) officials feel that the Monorail Phase-2 may have better ridership that the first phase, which is from Chembur to Wadala. The new leg of the project is expected to boost ridership on the entire Monorail corridor (Chembur-Wadala-Jacob Circle) built by the MMRDA at a cost of Rs 2,460 crore.
In February 2014, India’s first Monorail services started between Chembur and Wadala. While it had a good start with a daily ridership of 15,000 to 20,000 commuters, the numbers dwindled steadily with the project running into losses that mounted over the years. In response to an Right To Information application filed by an activist, the MMRDA had stated that the Monorail was incurring losses of Rs 6.40 lakh daily.
On November 9, 2017 two coaches of the Monorail were gutted in a fire at Mysore Colony Station, leading to the closure of its services between Wadala and Chembur for 10 months.
A high-power committee was set up to investigate the matter. The committee, in a report submitted to the MMRDA in January 2018, found that there were irregularities in the maintenance of the project. Also, the committee suggested that before restarting Monorail services, precautionary like emergency exits must be put in place. Services of the monorail were restored in September 2018.
A senior officer from MMRDA said Monorail Phase-2 has a connectivity to all three local railway lines — Central, Western and Harbour lines — so more commuters may be attracted to the Monorail in its second phase. MMRDA has set itself a target of achieving a ridership of 1 lakh on the entire corridor from Chembur to Jacob Circle. The second phase will have Monorail services every 20 minutes and fares will range between Rs 20 and Rs 40 for a one-way ticket.
Dilip Kawathkar, Deputy Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA said, “Currently, we have a total of seven monorail trains. The trains will run at an interval of 20 minutes. Later, we are planning to purchase 10 more trains. We have Rs 200 crore to buy five rakes, while we will raise funds for five more. We will soon float a tender for the five new rakes and procure them by the year-end, and the services will be increased.”