It was like travelling in a glorified local train, says mid-day reporter

Jun 09, 2014, 06:15 IST | Varun Singh

The crowds, the chaos and a huge delay while returning ruined his first Metro experience, writes Varun Singh

After months of waiting to ride on the city’s swanky Metro, I finally got a chance to do so yesterday. The experience, sadly, was akin to travelling in a glorified local train. In fact, while local trains at least run more or less on time, a 20-minute journey took me more than an hour while I was returning from Versova to Ghatkopar.

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mid-day reporter Varun Singh (extreme right). Pic/Rane Ashish
mid-day reporter Varun Singh (extreme right). Pic/Rane Ashish

The first leg of my journey, from Ghatkopar to Versova, was actually rather pleasant, considering the crowds, and the fact that yesterday was when the first run. My journey began around 2.40 pm from Ghatkopar. I had already asked a friend to get a ticket for me, thus saving at least an hour that I would have had to spend in the serpentine queues at the ticket counters.

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The Ghatkopar Metro station itself resembled a local train station with all the ingredients — crowd, commotion and chaos — thrown in. The only thing different was the excitement that came with being part of a very important day for the city.

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As soon as the train made its way to the platform, all of us, in true Mumbaikar spirit, jumped in. The guards had to intervene in order that passengers were allowed to alight first. They also had to remind people, used to standing at the door in local trains, to move inside the Metro so that the doors could shut.

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The crowds cheered as soon as the train started and shouts of ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’ began renting the air inside the Metro. Unprepared for the jerk that came with the train starting, however, many forgot about the elephant god momentarily, and rushed to hold on to something to avoid falling.

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The big windows in the Metro made it a good vantage point for seeing familiar sights in a new light. As the skyscrapers and the Western Express Highway whizzed past, I remember considering using the air-conditioned train for my daily commute.

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It didn’t take long for me to reconsider that thought. I reached Versova in 20 minutes and rushed to the other platform to begin my return journey. The train left the station on time, but then began halting at every station for nearly 10 minutes because of some technical snag.

Moreover, the doors were left open during the halts, letting the hot, humid air in and defeating the purpose of the air-conditioned train. The return journey, which should have also taken me 20 minutes, ended up taking more than an hour. When the claustrophobic return leg finally ended around 4.40 pm, I had hoped my troubles were over.

Getting out of the station, however, proved to be another ordeal. The token I was issued as a ticket failed to open the automatic gate. Other passengers, some with smart cards, also faced the same problem, and a security guard finally opened the gates to let us through.

The Metro, I realised, is a good option, but only when the plethora of teething problems is solved.The crowds, the chaos and a huge delay while returning ruined his first Metro experience, writes Varun Singh

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