BANGALORE: The wait for metro rail in the country's IT hub Bangalore is finally over! Union Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath
inaugurated the service which will open to public from 4 p.m. Thursday. The Metro service will run between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, several state ministers, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley, and a number of state Congress leaders were present at the inauguration at the decked up M.G. Road station.
Almost all of them, along with senior officials of the state government and the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd, special invitees and media personnel took the first ride in the "Namma Metro" (Our Metro) flagged off by Kamal Nath.
Bangalore has taken a step towards solving its most pressing urban infrastructure problem with the launch of the Metro rail service - India's third such after Kolkata and Delhi. Traversing just under seven kilometres through the eastern part of the city, the so-called 'Reach 1' of the Metro is regarded more as a sign of hope than a major contributor to easing Bangalore's notorious traffic congestion.
Linking the once-fashionable MG Road business district with Baiyappanahalli, the Metro is projected to carry 30,000 passengers a day, with fares ranging from Rs 10-15. The Delhi Metro, in comparison, has clocked peak traffic of two million and snakes through nearly 200 km of India's capital and surrounding areas.
"The first 'reach' will cater to a limited number of people and is unlikely to ease traffic in the city," said Pravin Sood, Bangalore's top policeman in charge of traffic.
The subsequent 'reaches' totally spanning the 42.3 km, will make a difference when they are completed in 2014, Sood said, expecting vehicular traffic to fall by up to 30% as a result.
While the Delhi Metro
has been a model for the rest, it does not have something that Bangalore Metro has: onboard Wi-Fi connectivity, in keeping with Bangalore's reputation as one of the world's top technology centres. But Bangalore Metro is at least a year behind schedule and its first phase will cost Rs 5,000 crore more than the estimate of Rs 6,395 crore. It is only the second phase, which will involve extensions to the city's tech hubs on the outskirts, that will make Bangalore Metro a true game-changer.
Bangalore Metro is standard gauge, a system used by most metros worldwide. Narrower than the broad gauge, it allows for greater manoeuvrability, easy ride along curves, laying of tracks even on narrow stretches and control. The standard gauge has a track width of 4ft, 8.5inches, or 1,435mm, while the Indian broad gauge is 5ft, 6inches, or 1,676mm.
"The Bangalore Metro, in terms of technology, is comparable to any metro rail system in the world - in Europe , USA or China - and is even ahead of some of them," BMRCL MD N Sivasailam said.