After putting up with traffic congestion and restricted road space for nearly seven years, commuters can look forward to traversing the entire 45 km stretch of Phase I of Chennai Metro Rail.
A decade after it was announced, the Phase I of the project was completed on Sunday with the opening of the 10 km stretch from AG-DMS to Washermanpet. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami launched the stretch from Tirupur via videoconferencing.
The opening of this stretch will substantially reduce the travel time for a commuter going all the way from Washermanpet to the airport. While it may take about an hour and 15 minutes by road, it will be only 40 minutes by Metro Rail.
The travel time from Chennai Central to the airport via Government Estate will only be about 30 minutes by Metro, while it may take up to an hour by road during peak hours.
With the opening of this stretch, the maximum fare has been reduced by ₹10; the minimum fare is ₹10 and the maximum is ₹60. The frequency of trains has gone up now.
There will be a train every five minutes during peak hours (8.30 a.m.to 10.30 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8.30 p.m.) and one every seven minutes during non-peak hours (6 a.m. to 8.30 a.m., 10.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 8.30 p.m. to 10 p.m.). CMRL sources said at present trains are operated between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., but there is a plan to extend the timings very soon.
Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri, who came down to Chennai for the inauguration, said, “With the completion of Phase I, ridership [number of people travelling] will go up considerably. We expect 2 lakh people to use the Metro every day.”
Women take control
On Sunday, two 20-year-old women — L .Shruthi and Reena Arunachalam — drove the trains from Chennai Central to Washermanpet. Reena Arunachalam said, “It is pure joy to go around the city, in full control of a train with thousands of passengers.”
Two women A. Preethi and G. Jayashree drove the first service of Metro Phase I four years ago.
Chennai Metro Rail will offer free rides for commuters across the entire 45 km till Monday night, sources said.
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