Metro trains pass through a residential area during its first official safety trial run in Mumbai (Reuters, file)
Mumbai will get metro rail connectivity, which will be next only to Shanghai and Beijing.Reuters

Mumbai's first Metro train service was flagged off by Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan from Versova station at 10.10 am on Sunday.

The 11.4 km line of Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro will be available to Mumbaikars every four minutes during peak hours and every eight minutes during non-peak hours.

Chavan was accompanied by Anil Ambani, Chairman of ADAG, which is one of the partners of Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL). MMOPL is a joint venture formed by Reliance Infrastructure, Veolia Transport and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).

Mumbaikars, who used to travel in cramped local trains, are now expected to revolutionise their commutation with the launch of Mumbai Metro service.

After the launch, Chief Minister Chavan said that by travelling on the Metro train on the 11.4 km Versova to Ghatkopar stretch via Andheri, the travel time will be reduced to 20 minutes. By road trasport, passengers in the route will have to travel for at least 90 minutes, the CM pointed out.

The first Metro train service in Mumbai will operate 200-250 services a day, transporting around 11 lakh commuters. Each coach of the Metro train can carry 1,500 passengers. In Mumbai, more than 70 lakh commuters take the local suburban railway services everyday.

The Versova-Ghatkopar Metro will operate from 5.30 am till midnight. Suburban trains in the city operate from 4.30 am till midnight.

Commuters on the Metro line can avail shopping and banking facilities as all 12 stations on the 11.4-km Metro corridor have been provided with eateries, beverages, convenience stores and ATM machines.

Mumbai's first Metro corridor was inaugurated eight years ago by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. And when the work finally started on the project in February 2008, its estimated cost was Rs 2,356 crore and was to be completed by 2012.

However, the project was delayed due to problems in securing complete right of way, getting clearances from various agencies and other related issues.

PS Baghel, commissioner of railway safety for the western circle, had given the conditional clearance last month. However, the Railway Board's final clearance for the Metro lime came only on Thursday. And then, the state government gave its clearance.

However, Chavan is not happy over the fares fixed for the Metro train services. Now, the minimum fare is Rs 10 while maximum is Rs 40. Chavan's government's insists the minimum and maximum fares should be between Rs 9 and Rs 13.