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D-Day: The Mumbai Metro's VAG line rolls out today

Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar line of metro rail to open a little after noon today. CM may flag off service despite being angry at ‘unfair fare hike’

India’s busiest metro will finally have a functioning metro rail service — even though its launch may be marred by political mudslinging. At 1 pm today, the 11.04-km Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar (VAG) metro rail corridor will be thrown open to the public and for the next 30 days, commuters will be able to travel the entire distance by paying just Rs 10 — a month-long promotional rate floated by the metro rail authorities.

Also read: Mumbai Metro's VAG line to start from Sunday morning

The metro
The metro will be operational from 5.30 am till midnight

The state government however, is not happy. Speaking to the media on Saturday Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said, “The metro line should be opened only if the ticket rates are as per the original agreement. The Government of Maharashtra has already filed a petition on this issue in the High Court.” Later in the evening an MMRDA spokesperson confirmed that the CM would flag off the inaugural train at 10.40 am from Ghatkopar metro station.

Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar metro
For the first month after its launch today, Mumbaikars can enjoy the commute on the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar metro route for just Rs 10. Pics/Nimesh Dave

However, an invitation sent by the MMOPL stated that the inauguration would take place at 9.30 am at Versova metro station — adding to the confusion. Earlier speaking to the media, MMOPL CEO Abhay Mishra said the inauguration will go ahead as planned. “The beginning of the commercial operation of Mumbai Metro is a historical moment for the city. These services will change the way Mumbaikars commute,” Mishra said.

Also read: Mumbai Metro's Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar line likely to start in a week's time

The trains will be operational from 5.30 am till midnight. There will be a train every four minutes during peak hours and every eight minutes during non-peak hours.

Fare-unfair?
The MMRDA and state government want ticket rates to be between Rs 9 and Rs 13 but the Union government has allowed Reliance Infrastructure-promoted Mumbai Metro to decide its own fare structure. This will allow R-Infra to fix the fares at higher rate than the one notified by the state government. “It was mentioned in the agreement that metro rail fares should be 1.5 times higher than BEST bus fares. We have stuck to the agreement,” said Debashish Mohanty, director MMOPL.

Logo logic
The Metro railway logo has caused another last minute controversy. Initially the logo of ‘Reliance Metro’ was displayed on all coaches and at stations. But following opposition from several quarters, the logo was changed to ‘Mumbai Metro’ with the names of Reliance and MMRDA written alongside it. The plastic tickets/cards to be issued to commuters, however have the ‘Reliance Metro’ logo once again.

The trains
>> 16 trains of 4 coaches ready to run
>> Each coach can accommodate 375 passengers
>> Total capacity of each train: 1500
>> Seats in each coach: 48
>> Average speed: 33kmph

In-coach
>> Doors: 8 bi-parting doors per coach
>> Easy entrance for wheel chairs
>> Double glazed laminated windows to keep out noise
>> Anti-skid floors
>> Dedicate wheel chair space in coaches
>> Grab poles for standing passengers
>> AC, humidity control in coaches
>> LCD TVs for in-coach entertainment

Safety and features
>> Total stations: 12
>> 700 CCTV cameras
>> Baggage screening machines at stations
>> Fire alarm systems
>> Fire-safe metal doors
>> Elevators at stations
>> Minimum two sets of escalators at each station
>> Automated gates to enter platform with ticket

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