By G. Ananthakrishnan
Chennai Metro Rail will connect two more sections with the airport in Tirusulam-Meenambakkam by March 2018: DMS on Anna Road and Chennai Central, the city’s most important rail terminal.
With that linkage, the rail system effectively will connect suburban trains operating upto Arakkonam in the West and Gummidipoondi in the northwest, from Central. It already links the city’s central bus station, CMBT, with the airport by rail.
The timeline for the new connections was highlighted by a Chennai Metro Rail Limited executive recently to a group of visitors including this writer.
Connecting the premier rail head in the city, and Chennai Egmore, the secondary rail terminal and CMBT will provide a commercially viable section to Chennai Metro, while it waits to complete its delayed project on arterial Anna Road and the line to North Chennai. About 150 metres of tunneling between Gemini (US Consulate point) to AG-DMS (see map) is yet to be completed, holding up early operation of the entire line.
Some key points on the current operations of Chennai Metro:
- Green Line from Nehru Park to Airport: It provides a connection from Nehru Park on EVR Periyar High Road (Poonamallee High Road) to the Airport (20.6 km), covering Kilpauk, Pachaiyappa’s College, Shenoy Nagar, Anna Nagar East, Anna Nagar Tower, Tirumangalam, Koyambedu CMBT (bus terminal), Arumbakkam, Vadapalani, Ashok Nagar, Eekathuthangal, Alandur, Nanganallur Road, Meenambakkam Metro. The map for the line is here. Normal fare given by Chennai Metro website for the entire stretch is Rs.60. Cards get some discounts. See this page for details.
- At the moment, only smart cards are sold for travel on the underground section, between Nehru Park and Airport. It costs Rs.10 plus the fare, so you can use it again or keep a ten-rupee souvenir if you just passing through. (It would be environmentally friendly to give the cards a five year validity, so it is not added to the waste pile).
- Small bus link: While we wait for the connection to Central to be completed, there is a small bus on route S96 operating between Central and Nehru Park, via Egmore. It is not designed to carry baggage, so you have to think twice whether you want to take an Uber or Ola or other mode of transport up to Nehru Park, to board the train to the airport. This is a typical third world bus with narrow entrance and exit, friendly neither to people nor meant to transport passengers transferring between trains and planes. There is an Ola counter at Nehru Park, if you wish to use that in the reverse direction to Central. Another May I Help You counter for MTC route S96 is also there, but it seemed to be unmanned last week at 11 a.m.
- Integrated tickets: Chennai Metro says it is planning to have integrated tickets between its services and those of MTC, starting with the Small Bus. Details are sketchy, and it is likely to work using the hand-held ticket terminals used by MTC conductors.
- Security is a big priority at Chennai Metro and all baggage is scanned, airport-style, and passengers are frisked.
- Real Time Passenger Info: Chennai Metro also says it has successfully trialled a real time passenger information system, although there is no timeline for its availability on the CMRL Totems that are found outside the stations, or on the official app of the Metro system.
- Step-free access: Look out for lifts at the Metro stations, since escalators don’t exist to reach the underground concourses and platforms. I have found it difficult to navigate to the lifts at the airport.
Catch a glimpse of the recently opened underground system of Chennai Metro and the work in progress, in this slideshow.