New Delhi: The long-awaited Mumbai Metro is finally open to the public, a full eight years since Manmohan Singh laid the foundation stone. The project's original deadline was December 2010 but delays in shifting of utility lines, land acquisition and getting permission for constructing an overbridge at Andheri delayed the project by three-and-a-half years.
Trains will run at a frequency of 3.30 seconds at each of 12 stations, during the rush hour and eight minutes otherwise, taking about 21 minutes to ferry commuters from Ghatkopar on the eastern side to Versova on the western part of the city. At present, during peak hours it takes about 70 minutes to cover the distance by road.
Of the 16 four-coach rakes procured, 14 will be used to run the line. One will be kept as an operations reserve and one for maintenance reserves.
The phase-1 of the Mumbai metro, a joint venture between Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA), Anil Ambani-led Reliance Energy and Veolia Transport of France, will cater to lakhs of commuters every day on the 11-km Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar route.
The first Mumbai Metro train from Versova was flagged off by the Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Sunday. The inauguration came amid a continuing tussle between the state government and the PPP player Reliance Infrastructure over fares.
Giving his conditional consent to inaugurate the first line of the metro rail, Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said, “I have agreed to inaugurate the first line of Mumbai Metro only if the company charges fares as per the rates agreed in the concession agreement signed between MMOPL and MMRDA—the nodal agency for the project.”
The metro service was inaugurated with a promise of a flat fare of Rs 10 for a one-way trip regardless of the distance travelled, but the chief minister has said that such a move cannot be considered as a temporary compromise and that the fares must remain restricted by a government-controlled committee.
”According to concession agreement signed between MMRDA and MMOPL, fares were fixed between Rs.9 and Rs.13,” Chavan has said earlier. “However, MMOPL is demanding that it should be allowed to charge fare between Rs.10 and Rs.40, citing increase in the cost of project from Rs.2,356 crore to Rs.4,321 crore,” he added.
With each train carrying nearly 1,500 people, the Metro will ferry 11 lakh passengers per day, just 14.6 per cent of the 75 lakh commuters that the entire suburban rail network of Mumbai carries on a daily basis.
Trains will have four coaches each. The seating capacity of every coach will alternate between 48 and 52. Of these about 12 seats will be reserved for ladies, senior citizens and handicapped commuters. The overall capacity of one coach will be 375.
Observers said the fare structure would play an important role in attracting commuters to the service. Reliance Energy was eager to raise the fare but the state government reportedly refused. Even as the fare dispute is resolved, the minimum fare has been fixed at Rs 10 and maximum at Rs 40.
The 11.4 km long Versova – Andheri – Ghatkopar route is likely to marginally reduce footfalls at Dadar railway junction, which is a junction for interchange. However, more footfalls are anticipated at Andheri and Ghatkopar railway stations.
Presently, it is a nightmare for office goers to board a bus or get an autorickshaw in the evening. Surely, the start of operations will ease some of their commuting troubles.
MMOPL, in its statement said it would run the service between 5.30am and 12 midnight on all working days.
Property consultant Jones Lang LaSalle said it is expect the Mumbai metro railway link to be a game changer for the megapolis' realty landscape.
"Transportation infrastructure economics have historically proven to positively impact real estate value in cities like Mumbai because residential and commercial properties located close to transportation infrastructure tend to command a premium," JLL India COO Ramesh Nair said in a statement.
Already, areas benefiting from metro connectivity, have seen a price appreciation of 400 per cent over the past eight years, and this trend is set to continue with the metro railway link's imminent launch, the property consultant said.