Mumbai saw the newest addition to its glory in the form of Mumbai Metro, and it made every mumbaikar happy. But the sudden announcement of the metro was left for open debate. The state needed to show some progress and are under pressure due to the upcoming assembly elections. Started construction in 2006, it was completed in the end 2013 after a 2 year delay. It is an astonishing delay, when you consider that Dubai built man made Palm islands in 8 years! The delay was attributed to getting the requisite permissions from various authorities and public protests.
In the process, Mumbai also scrapped further expansion plans as they are not happy with the Mumbai Metro One Pvt. Ltd., the contractor. MMOPL is co-owned by Reliance (ADAG) Group and Veolia Transport, and Reliance has got one up by branding the Mumbai Metro as Reliance Metro.
Potential gold mine in terms of branding, this is precisely where things went from bad to worse. A lot of local politicians went to metro stations and blackened Reliance’s branding. Tug of war between MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority) and Reliance finally ended in Reliance agreeing not to brand the stations and only brand tickets, which it rightfully can since it is the operator.
Even in that case, the brand should be MMOPL, the contractor than that of Reliance, the co-owner. They also hold the rights to brand stations – another potential gold mine for advertisement revenue. This is also being challenged in courts.
The word “China”
It is often a dreaded word – when you buy stuff from China, it tends to have a shorter life. Reliance choose CSR Nanjing for the rolling stock (coaches) even though Nanjing was never shortlisted at first place. But these companies were - Siemens, Bombardier, Alstom, Rotem-Hyundai, Chunyun, and Nippon Sharyo. This change in decision were due to two main reasons – cost and Veolia is closer to Nanjing.
Rate the Price
The inaugural fare was set at INR 10 for travel throughout the distance. However again, Reliance and MMRDA, along with Government have locked heads over the price it wants to charge to recover their investment. Largely seen as artificially bumped up, the cost to construct the metro line one has touched INR 4321 Crores. If Reliance has its way, rates would be revised in the range of INR 10 to 40.
Just three weeks after the metro was thrown open, the infamous Mumbai rain penetrated a Nanjing rolling stock from its A/c vent and the whole ridiculed the incident. I was asked by a friend to write about this incident on my blog, I guess it was a reaction in the moment.
The reason why I called it “Mumbai’ed” was because rain and floods are now becoming a normal phenomenon. More so, when I considered no floods on Metro since the entire track is elevated. Funny.
What is good then?
While I have heaps of praises for finally launching the Mumbai Metro, there are a few things that I hold my views firmly about.
It saves me time, and money. It is air-conditioned, and also keeps me away from pollution. It also saves me from the rude Auto rickshaw drivers.