In the first quarter of 2017, Chennai will get its first underground metro rail service -an 8m stretch from Koyambedu to Nehru Park. With that, close to 70% of Phase-I of the service will be operational. Earlier, the plan was to open a 4.5 km stretch from Koyambedu to Shenoy Nagar.
The stretch is part of corridor-2, comprising seven underground stations. On a trial run on Friday , a four-car train crossed the elevated line at Koyambedu metro station through a ramp connecting the underground tunnel. From Thirumangalam, the line is underground till Nehru Park cutting across the arterial Poonamallee High Road at a depth of 18 metres. The trains run at a speed of 25 kmhr in manual mode as against the maximum speed of 80 km hr, as the signaling systems that will enable automatic operations are yet to be installed.
“Ninety per cent of the construction work is complete on the stretch. The rest would be done in the next four months.By the first quarter of next year, the line will be open to the public,“ said V K Singh, CGM, underground constructions.
Once operational, residents from localities like Kilpauk, Shenoy Nagar, Aminjikarai, Anna Nagar and Thirumangalam can travel up to the airport, covering about 24 km in 40 minutes with a single ticket that would cost about Rs.70. But they will have to switch to another platform at Alandur metro station to get to another corridor that would run to the airport. A direct service from Nehru Park to Airport is not part of the plan at the moment, but officials said they might run direct trains if there is a demand in the future.
“In the future, we are also planning to reduce the headway between trains from 10 minutes to 2.5 minutes. The number of trains running on the stretch will also depend on the patronage. As of now, we have 10 trains running on the elevated corridor,“ said Ramasubbu, CGM, Electrical and Operations.
Officials said the stretch from Nehru Park to Central is currently under construction and will take another year to be commissioned. Among the seven stations, Shenoy Nagar metro station will be the largest, and it has a crossover track that will facilitate uninterrupted train service during an emergency . “The train can cross from one track to another and continue towards its destination in case of any accidents,“ said Umesh Roy, CGM, EI. Central metro station is the other crossover station in corridor 2. “There will be a crossover between every four stations. In Corridor-1, crossovers are in Washermanpet, Central and AG-DMS stations.“