Steered by a young woman driver, the first train of the Chennai Metro rail chugged off from Alandur Station an hour after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa e-launched the service via video conferencing on Monday.
The first train which left at 12.15 pm from Alandur to Koyambedu was driven by A Preethi, a 28-year-old diploma holder in engineering from Government Dharmambal Polytechnic College, Chennai.
"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.
Swanky Alandur metro station, the biggest in Chennai, was brimming with activity, with enthusiastic passengers eager to board the first Metro train.
Murali Mohan, a software engineer, along with his wife and sister-in-law, stood in the queue to pick up tickets for the first journey on Chennai Metro.
For Mohan and his wife the Metro route of 10 km is not suitable for daily transport but they still were out there to “check out” like many other commuters who queued up at Alandur station.
What concerned Mohan was whether he will be allowed to ferry vegetable sacks from Koyambedu market on the train, the fare of which is a mere Rs 40, when compared to the Rs 200 to Rs 250 he shells out by auto.
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.
Totally nine trains have been introduced till now.
Eventually, the track may get extended till Chennai airport, about 5 km from Alandur.
This stretch is part of the Phase 1 (45 kms), which when completed would have 32 stations.
The Chennai Metro project, phase I, is expected to cost around Rs 20,000 crore as against an initial estimate of Rs 14,600 crore. The Phase I would have two corridors -- Washermenpet to Airport -- 23.1 kms and another from Chennai Central to St.Thomas Mount -- 22 kms.
(with PTI inputs)