The country’s first monorail went on a trial run on Saturday morning, making its way from Wadala Depot to Chembur carrying a contingent of media persons and officials, including chief secretary Jayant Kumar Banthia.
The bright pink rake completed its successful trial amidst loud cheering from residents along the route, even as photographers clicked away non-stop.
The city is expected to get an air-conditioned, comfortable and quick ride from August this year, zipping from Chembur to Wadala in just 19 minutes.
“This is a very proud moment for us. However, we will carry out trials until we are assured of 100% safety,” said Banthia.
“We have been carrying out trials on the Chembur-Wadala route and we expect the public commissioning of monorail on this route to be done in August this year,” said MMRDA commissioner Rahul Asthana.
“The service will be started only after safety audits by Singapore’s SMRT Corporation and a retired railway commissioner.”
The second phase of the project — Wadala to Jacob Circle — is expected to be open to public early next year.
While some transport experts lauded the monorail project on Saturday, others expressed doubts over the efficacy of the first phase in serving a considerable population.
“The Chembur-Wadala route will not be of much use as not many commuters travel between these two points.
"However, once the second phase is completed, the entire Chembur-Jacob Circle route will be very helpful for people travelling on the east-west corridor,” said transport expert Jitendra Gupta.
While many Mumbaiites await the monorail, this is likely to be the only monorail corridor in the city, with infrastructure planners doing a rethink on whether such a mode of transport, seen as a feeder system rather than mass transit, is viable for a city like Mumbai.
Although the MMRDA had said in its white paper it plans to construct seven monorail corridors, officials admitted that future plans may be cancelled given the low-passenger carrying capacity.
“We will assess the response and the overall efficiency of this system before going ahead with our plans for another corridor,” said a senior MMRDA official.