3 more metro rail stretches to open by end of 2016

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Chennai: Travelling to the airport from neighbourhoods in Kilpauk and Anna Nagar will soon be hassle-free as Chennai metro rail is gearing up to complete the Nehru Park-Thirumangalam, Little Mount-airport and Alandur-St Thomas Mount stretches by year-end. Once this is done, the city will have a metro rail network of 30 km, two-thirds of the 45-km etwork planned under ongoing phase I.

After laying the cornerstone for the nine-kilometre phase I extension project from Washermenpet to Wimco Nagar on Saturday, chief minister J Jayalalithaa said the nine-kilometre elevated stretch from Little Mount to the airport will be operationalized in August followed by the three-kilometre portion from Alandur to St Thomas Mount in October and the 7-km underground stretch from Koyambedu to Nehru Park by the end of 2016. “Work on the remaining parts will be completed before end of 2017,” she said.

When the three stretches are open for commercial operations, passengers can take a direct train from Nehru Park all the way to the airport via Koyambedu or head to St Thomas Mount.

Metro rail officials said while work on the underground stretch from Thirumangalam to Nehru Park will be completed before the end of 2016, they might take another three months to complete various levels of inspections for commissioning. ” We may have several issues to deal with during inspections for the underground stretch. So, we are looking to open it by March 2017,” an official said.

With the authorities deeming that phase I of the metro rail network is not sufficient for the future needs of the city, the chief minister said work to prepare a detailed project report for phase II of metro rail was already underway.

“The project has been included in JICA’s revolving fund scheme 2016 to get financial assistance. The proposal for phase II would soon be sent to the Centre for approval,” she said. Taking credit for initiating the metro rail project in 2003 and for its progress since her government took over in 2011, Jayalalithaa said 98% of elevated corridors, 65% of underground stretches and 100% of depots had been completed in the last five years.

The state has so far released more than Rs 4,300 crore as loan, share capital and subsidy for the project and the Centre has released more than Rs 2,300 crores while JICA has provided a loan of Rs 7,095 crores, she said.

Emphasizing that metro rail services were the need of the hour, Union Minister for Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu said that metro trains cover a total distance of 316 km in various cities in the country, while 525 km were under construction and another 553 km was being considered for future projects.