Mumbai : If the eastern freeway is `nirvana’ for the motorist, the monorail ride entails the same for the local train commuter. After enduring filth inside and outside the train for a lifetime, the air-conditioned compartments, the squeaky clean scrubbed platforms and the stunning tree-top view of the city in the monorail is awesome.
This journalist was among those invited by the MMRDA for a trial ride on Thursday afternoon, two days before its inauguration. Nearly 300 scribes turned up, filling up all four bogies of the pink-coloured train. A cheer went up as it started from Wadala at 12.10 pm after a wait of half-an-hour.
Over the next 20 minutes, the train passed the Imax dome theatre at Bhakti Park, the RCF refinery and its housing colony, crisscrossed the Eastern Freeway twice and ended up opposite the Chembur Fine Arts Society near Chembur railway station.
The ride offers an aerial view of large swathes of mangroves, uninhabited hillocks, salt pans, a river-like culvert and wide-open spaces without a building in sight. As it approaches Chembur, one gets a superb view of a marble Jain temple, the Charai Lake, penthouses and a panoramic view of the refinery. One also gets to glimpse large tree canopies, something so rare in the concrete jungle.
Of course, the train passes over slums but there is also a lovely cricket ground, the Chembur golf course, a quaint municipal school and a little-known railway track from the refinery. At some vantage points, commuters get a direct view of apartments on the third floor. At other points, it looks down on arterial roads and junctions.
The monorail meanders through areas that are far off from the arterial roads and introduces citizens to hidden parts of the city. The stations in the first phase are Wadala Depot, Bhakti Park, Mysore Colony, Bharat Petroleum, Fertiliser Township, VNP & RC Marg Junction and Chembur. The distance from the first station to the last is 8.8 km.
There is hardly any time to notice the monorail interiors, but it goes without saying that they are pleasant. The insides of the bogies resemble an ice-cream parlour with its large windows, pastel shades and uncluttered seating. The monorail stations are a delight: located at an elevated height of three storeys, with plenty of light and air. The only thing they lacked were public conveniences, but there is still time for that. But, on the whole, the monorail is a refreshing mode of travel, by virtue of the sights it offers.