Mumbai Monorail authorities didn’t sound too confident on Saturday. They made us all sign an indemnity bond before we boarded the train for its maiden run with people on board.
But from then on, it was sheer joy. Over a 100 media persons who were invited as part of the maiden run, bounded up the stairs, past the automatic entry/exit points (that would normally operate only after swiping the card tickets) and into the bright green and pink rakes that stood waiting for us.
Above us was the sky. In front of us, the brilliant shining rakes. Sadly exactly below, staring back at us, lay a vast slum and a dirty nullah.
Inside, the four-car train, separated by vestibules, was spotlessly clean. “The vestibules allow the Monorail to maintain balance while moving along curves and turns,” explained a senior MMRDA official. It moved with ease as everyone cheered. We could see people below, walking on the road, standing on top of terraces and waving to us. The Monorail had got its band of followers already.
From my window, I could see the wide open stretch of mangroves, the Mahul creek and then the tall chimneys emitting black smoke from the refineries of Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum.
At every curve, it seemed as if our coach would fall off, but engineers assured us that this was how the Monorail would ply and that passengers need not fear. In no time, we had covered seven stations from Bhakti Park, Mysore Colony, Bharat Petroleum, Fertiliser Township, RC Marg junction before finally arriving at Chembur station.
After a halt of five minutes we went back to Wadala. This time I checked. We covered the nine km distance in 18 minutes — not a bad deal at all. Officials said once operations begin, the train would halt for 20 seconds at each station.
The wait for the monorail is almost over. Almost.