Nearly a decade after then Chief Minister Ashok Chavan laid its foundation stone, the 19.48-km-long Mumbai Monorail, connecting Chembur to Jacob Circle, was finally inaugurated on Sunday.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday inaugurated the second phase of the Monorail, which covers a distance of 11.24 km from Wadala to Sant Gadge Chowk near Jacob Circle. The 8.24-km-long first phase, from Wadala to Chembur, was, inaugurated in February 2014 but received poor response due to its alignment and lack of connectivity with other public transport systems. It also witnessed a spate of accidents, including a fire, which led to services being shut for 10 months. So far, the first phase has been making losses.
But authorities believe now that the entire line has been inaugurated, it will become a popular mode of transport for commuters. The entire line will open for public use on Monday.
The second phase, with over 20 deadlines missed and delayed by over three years , was flagged off by Fadnavis in the presence of Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal. Fadnavis and Goyal then travelled in the Monorail from Sant Gadge Chowk till Wadala, covering the 11.45-km journey in 22 minutes.
"The Monorail phase-1 was only a joyride and loss-making project. The second phase will ensure the whole corridor is useful for the public," Fadnavis said during a press conference after inaugurating the line.
He said the Maharashtra government is trying to set up a comprehensive "360-degree" transportation system for the city, which includes Monorail, Metro and water transport. He said such a system will keep private vehicles off roads and boost the use of public transport. He added that there are plans to connect more Monorail stations with suburban train stations.
Goyal said the Indian Railways is committed to help the MMRDA connect Monorail stations to the suburban rail network. The MMRDA had planned India's first Monorail system in Mumbai with a consortium of L&T and Scomi being asked to build the Rs 2,450-crore project on a contract basis in 2008. The first phase travels through comparatively less-populated areas between Chembur and Wadala. But after the first phase was plagued with problems, the MMRDA had terminated Scomi International from maintaining and operating the Monorail in December 2018. Since then, the MMRDA has been running the service.
The MMRDA had earlier planned an elaborate Monorail network across the city but now seems to have dropped the system in favour of the Metro.
The Monorail on Sunday was driven by Sudhir Suryvanshi, who said: "I did get a bit nervous in the presence of the chief minister but I am responsible for this machine and did not lose focus piloting it. I have driven on the route that constitutes the first phase but it is quite a thrill to be the first to drive on the entire 19-km stretch."