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Monday, June 29, 2015

Chennai Metro chugs off .... driven by a female driver

29th June 2015 – a momentous day for Chennai -  we have been reading about ‘Chennai Metro’ -  rapid transit system for too long and it has become a reality today.Phase I of the project, which consists of two corridors covering a length of 45.1 kilometres (28.0 mi), is under construction – that can be felt as you travel in Chennai – as you would see works in progress at many parts of the city – the already narrow roads shrinking further and some traffic snarls.  Chennai has local trains running from Central to Arakonam; Central to Ponneri;  Chennai Beach to Tambaram EMU line and MRTS from Beach to Velachery – the metro project is to integrate all of them together. 
Hindustan Times photo

A  distance of 10 Kilometers from Koyambedu to Alandur, the first phase of the much anticipated multi-crore Metro Rail chugged off today  with Chief Minister Ms.J Jayalalithaa flagging off the inaugural service from the  state secretariat through live video.  The route dedicated to the public is an elevated structure covering a distance of 10.15 km, consisting of Alandur, Ekkathuthangal, Ashok Nagar, Vadapalani, Arumbakkam and Koyambedu Railway stations besides the yard at the last stop, a state government release  said. This route runs mainly on the busy 100 ft road and would cater to lakhs of commuters when fully completed.

The first train having four coaches, left at 12.15 pm from Alandur to Koyambedu and was driven by A Preethi, a 28-year-old diploma holder in engineering from Government Dharmambal Polytechnic College here.The flower decked sprawling and swanky Alandur metro station, the biggest in Chennai, was brimming with activity, with enthusiastic passengers eager to board the first train."I am excited, my daughter's dream of becoming a loco pilot of Metro Rail has come true," Preethi's father R Anbu told PTI. He explained how his daughter was chasing her dream of becoming a loco pilot after the metro rail project began taking shape. "She quit her first job, applied for a job in Chennai Metro rail, and she was the first woman to get selected," he said with joy.
The 10 km stretch from Alandur in southern Chennai to Koyambedu which houses an inter-state bus terminus and also a vegetable wholesale market would be covered in just 19 minutes. This includes the stoppage time at six stations. By road, when traffic is smooth, the same distance can be covered in 45 minutes. During peak hours it may get doubled.

There will be a metro train service every 10 minutes. Each train can carry upto to 1,276 passengers.The minimum fare on the train is Rs 10 and the maximum fare is Rs 40.  While some may jump to say that fares are high – it is an airconditioned train and the stations will have to be maintained – in MRTS – the travel from Beach to Velachery costs a measly Rs.5/- [unbelievable Rs.120 for a monthly pass !] which certainly needs multiple upward revision.

Newspaper reports suggest that immediately upon inauguration, DMK and Congress parties claimed credit for the scheme, claiming it to be their master plan for the city. Stalin recalled his trip to Japan as the minister for local administration to seek a loan for the project.

On Jan 25, 2015, the Hindu had this photo of two women and a report – two  modestly-dressed young women stand small in front of a towering silver-blue train. Normally, there would be nothing special about the scene, except these two women will soon be behind the controls of the train.  They are A. Preethi and G. Jayashree — the only two women train operators for Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL).Both women are in their 20s and joined CMRL in September 2013, after finishing their diploma in electronics and communication.There are driver-less Metro Rail trains in the world. Even Chennai Metro trains are equipped with automatic operating systems.“However, operators are required to monitor the movement of passengers. Also, initially they will be required to give command of the speed. But the system won’t let them go beyond 50 kmph. If they do, the trains will automatically come to a halt. We have also designed several other automatic provisions for safety,” says an official of CMRL.

As part of their training, Preethi and Jayashreehad visited Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, met their counterparts there and drove trains in Delhi’s test tracks.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

29th June 2015.

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