India’s first monorail was flagged off by Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Saturday afternoon at the Wadala Monorail Station.
Soon after flagging it off, Chavan along with Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, other elected representatives, officials and dignitaries took 8.93 km long ride to Chembur Monorail Station.
At Mahatma Gandhi Maidan in Chembur East, Chavan announced Wadala – Chembur Monorail ‘Open’.
Curious and excited Mumbaikars had come to try their luck for a joyride on Saturday only to have been told to make an attempt on Sunday morning.
From Sunday morning at 7, monorail rakes will depart simultaneously from either ends of the 8.93 km – Wadala and Chembur for public.
For the first month, the frequency will be every 15 minutes. “After a month we may increase the frequency to every 9 minutes. Depending upon the need and response from public, they operational timings will also increase,” said Ashwini Bhide, additional metropolitan commissioner, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).
The Mumbai Monorail project has been divided into two phases, namely Chembur – Wadala (Phase I) and Wadala – Jacob Circle (Phase II). The 10.24 km long second phase is under construction and is scheduled for completion by March 2015.
The contract for Mumbai Monorail project was awarded to Scomi and Larsen & Toubro on October 16, 2008. Initially Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was to launch the project on November 29, 2008 but due to 26/11 terror attacks the same was revised to February 9, 2009.
The initial deadline for the ambitious and prestigious project was December 2010 (first phase – Wadala to Chembur) and May 2011 for Wadala to Jacob Circle. But the project has witnessed repeated deadline revisions. Senior MMRDA officials claim that despite the delay, the project cost has never been escalated from Rs 2,460 crore. In 2008, MMRDA had estimated the 20 km long project’s cost at Rs 1,440 crore, which was very low according to private players.