The first Monorail has commenced operation in Mumbai
Monorail captains have been trained to operate a wide range of gadgets including a Microsoft Windows XP based system.
After a delay of over two and a half years, the monorail at Mumbai commenced operation on February 2, 2014. The inaugural run was flagged off by the chief minister of Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chavan, from the Wadala depot, the epicentre of the monorail project. The current operation of the Mumbai monorail, India's first ever monorail, is limited to Phase 1 of the project running between Wadala depot and Chembur, a stretch of 8.9 km. Out of the Rs 3000 crore investment earmarked, Rs 1900 crore have been invested so far. Under the aegis of Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the operation of Phase 1 commenced after receiving the necessary permissions and clearance of safety audits. Safety mock drills were conducted prior to commencing the Phase I operations to ensure smooth and well-planned response in an event of emergency, for safe evacuation of people in case of a breakdown or an emergency situation. Speaking to the media prior to the launch, Ashwini Bhide, Additional Commissioner, MMDRA, said that the civil work for Phase 2 is complete. "What remains is the portion that goes over the suburban railway," she added. With permissions to complete work over suburban railway tracks expected shortly, operation of Phase 2 could commence in a year.
Once operational, the Mumbai monorail will become the second longest monorail corridor at 19.17 km after the Osaka monorail corridor in Japan, which measures 23.8 km. For the first month, the operation of monorail over the Wadala-Chembur stretch will be limited to single shift between 7 am and 3 pm. Six monorails have been pressed into service, the frequency of time between two trains being fifteen minutes. It will be brought down to nine minutes and less over a period of time, averred UPS Madan, Commissioner, MMRDA. He added that 20,000 people are expected to take advantage of the Phase 1 operation, the fare for the stretch between Wadala and Chembur ranging between Rs 5 and Rs 11. Once the second phase is operational, another ten trains will be pressed into service.
All monorail stations flaunt a modern look, and the latest ticketing and security arrangements.
Facilitating comfortable travel, each mono is made up of four air-conditioned rakes. Depending on the need, the number of rakes can be increased to six. Designed for light travel, the monorail corridor, to facilitate easy connectivity with the suburban rail network, will have sky walk joining the monorail and suburban rail stations at Chembur. There will be a similar arrangement at Saat Rasta and Mahalakshmi, according to Madan. The Wadala suburban rail station and monorail stations will be connected directly. At other stations MMDRA is in discussion with BEST to start a feeder bus service according to Madan. This service will enable commuters to travel from their destination to the nearest mono rail station; or from the nearest suburban railway station to a monorail station. If the stations flaunt a modern look, and a modern ticketing as well as security arrangement, at the heart of the Mumbai monorail is its operations control centre.
Spread over 6.5 hectares at Wadala (depot), the operations control centre includes a large screen that helps to control the speed of the trains, operation of signal operation, and communicate. The screen also facilitates the operation of brakes. Apart from the operations control centre, the 6.5 hectare piece of land contains a power station, a receiving traction sub-station and full-fledged administration block.
A team of young captains comprising men and women operates the futuristic looking monorail trains. They were trained by Scomi, which is developing the Mumbai monorail in collaboration with Larsen & Toubro. The gadgetry the monorail captains are trained to operate includes a Microsoft Windows XP based system. In charge of operating electrically propelled (750 V DC) monorail trains they have also been trained to handle advanced passenger driver communication, CCTV cameras, etc. The trains also employ regenerative braking system similar to what is found on many modern hybrid and electric cars.