As of this afternoon, its official – Chennai has got approval for its own Metro Railway on the lines of that in New Delhi. Personally, its been a long wait for this news. Chennai was the only city that took so long to finalise its plans for the metro, with Mumbai and Hyderabad in advanced stages of planning, and Bangolore already started with the construction.
The project is estimated to cost around 10,000 crores which is similiar to the cost incurred by Delhi metro for its first phase (65km) , against 45km proposed for Chennai. I suspect that the higher cost is due to the longer underground sections here, as the road widths make it difficult to construct elevated lines on the median like what was done in Delhi.
The DPR prepared by the DMRC proposes two lines:
Line 1: From Fort St George - Central - Chennai Airport via Mount Road
Line 2: From Washermanpet - Anna Nagar – Ashok Nagar - St Thomas Mount via Inner Ring Road
The exact alignments are still unclear, but i have made a map which should be a fairly accurate guess. Check out the chennai metro map.
So both are still primarily north-south lines and should supplement the existing suburban rail and MRTS network. One thing that will be needed in the future is an east west link, maybe a monorail or a light rail from the Marina Beach - Pondy Bazaar - KK Nagar that would connect the metro, mrts and the suburban railway network. I hope the govt plans something along those lines soon.
Of course, one thing that everyone would be dying to know is when you can fancy a ride on such a train. Thats really hard to say and depends on how quickly the TN govt can secure funding for the project. If the proposed SPV is as successful as Delhi’s DMRC, best case scenario would be around 5 years from now. But given the dirty politics in the state, worst case would be a change in govt and allegations of corruption by JJ, that could plunge the whole thing in limbo. But even then, it should’nt take more than 10 years for it to be up and running.
The wait seems long, but it is a step in the right direction. So chennai has one more project in its long list of those under implementation. Lets just cross our fingers and hope that it does not become another MRTS. If things go smooth, the city will be once again be on top, with the best public transport systems in the country.
UPDATE: More details on the Chennai metro alignments, and an estimate on the opening date.