The much-touted Mumbai Metro experienced technical glitches on the first day of operations on Sunday, making the promised 21-minute smooth journey from Versova to Ghatkopar a painful 60-minute ride for enthusiastic commuters.
Incidentally, the technical error did not surface even once in the last couple of months of trials and certification period. More than 1 lakh passengers travelled on the metro within six hours of its operations on Sunday.
According to the original plan, the 11.4-km commercial service between Versova and Ghatkopar was to commence from 1pm, but it was thrown open to the public around 11.30am, minutes after the inauguration ceremony concluded.
Withing half-an-hour of the metro being operational, there was a point failure (point is a switch that helps train to change tracks) at the entrance of the Ghatkopar station. "The staff from the operations control centre was unable to operate the switch. It had to be manually changed to direct metro rakes into platform number 1 and 2 of the Ghatkopar metro station," a source told dna.
After a quick round of deliberations, it was decided to shut platform number 1 for operations and manually lock the switch (for turnout), directing all metro rakes only to platform 2. This had a cascading effect on the operations for the entire day.
The Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra)-led Mumbai Metro One Private Limited could not live up to its promise of a 21-minute ride on Day 1. However, only services from Versova to Ghatkopar were affected. Also, it took an additional 15-20 minutes for passengers to buy a token and undergo security checks at the concourse level.
Passengers, most of whom came to experience the latest mode of transport in the city, were informed about the technical glitch initially. Later, some of the staff at metro stations blamed them for the mess, saying the metro systems were thrown out of gear because of overcrowding and overloading.
The system has been designed to carry a maximum 11 lakh passengers, but authorities expect an estimated 7 lakh people to use it daily.