It was like a ‘First Day First Show’ of a movie at the Metro Railway stations on June 29, 2015. The much awaited moment to travel in a Metro Rail in Chennai has finally arrived at the Alandur and Koyambedu stations, with the Chennai Metro Railway inaugurated by chief minister J Jayalalitha on that day.
At 12.15 p.m, while the inauguration was still on, the Koyambedu station was jam-packed at the three ticket counters and the two automated counters, out of which one was not working. And of the two x-ray machines, only one was operational on the first day. The young and the old were equally seen excited to ride on the metro rail on the first day and did not mind standing in the long queue to buy tickets.
The coaches were decorated with flowers for the inauguration. The train is air conditioned and can hold upto 1200 people. Smoking, eating and drinking are prohibited. There are luggage racks made of toughened glass and there is also 24/7 CCTV surveillance . Audio information is provided in English and Tamil regarding stations and which door will open upon arrival. The doors have indications on the top. It turns green when the door opens and turns red when the doors are about to close. Above the doors, there is a digital map indicating all the stations.At the start of the journey, all the lights are lit. On approaching the station, the lights flash on and off .On reaching the station the lights switch off. The map is present in English and Tamil.
There are two exits from Koyambedu station. One is towards the Poonamallee High road and the other towards the Koyambedu market. There is also another exit towards National Highway, but it is not open yet. There are five stops between Koyambedu and Alandur.
The first stretch of Chennai Metro Rail between Alandur and Koyambedu is of 10 km distance. The trains are designed to run 80km but will run at 35km because of the short distance between the two stations as of now. There are no underground tunnels between Koyambedu and Alandur.
The highest fare so far is from Koyambedu to Alandur which is at Rs. 40. Before going to the train there are security gates, which people have to pass through to ensure that no prohibited articles are brought on the train.
For people who do not want to buy tickets often, there is a smart card which can be bought for Rs. 100. No ID proof required to buy this card. The card has one year validity and can be topped up to Rs. 100 and in multiples of 100. These cards are available at the stations. The facility to buy tickets online is not available yet. Passengers can either use smart card or a token which will be given to the passenger upon booking the tickets.
The grand view of Chennai from the train is fascinating. The first few days of travel on the metro rail will be a jolly ride to many, but in the long run, this rapid transit system will be a boon to those who travel a long distance across the city every day.