The Chennai Metro is a rapid transit system serving the city of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. The system commenced service in 2015 after partially opening the first phase of the project. The network consists of two colour-coded lines covering a length of 28 kilometres (17 mi).[5]

The Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL), a joint venture between Government of India and the Government of Tamil Nadu built and operates the Chennai Metro. The system has a mix of underground and elevated stations and uses standard gauge. The services operate daily between 06:00 and 22:00 with a varying frequency of 10–20 minutes.

The system has also planned to takeover the existing Chennai Mass Rapid Transit System by 2021,[6] which would be upgraded to operate using the rolling stock of the Chennai Metro.[7] CMRL was recognised by the International Association of Public Transport in 2011.[8]

Construction began in June 2009 and the first stretch, covering seven stations from Koyambedu to Alandur over a distance of 10 kilometres (6.2 mi), began operation on 29 June 2015. As of May 2017, Nehru Park to St. Thomas Mount on the Green line and Little Mount to Chennai International Airport on Blue line are commercially operational which brings the total operational network to 28 km.



Chennai had an established Chennai Suburban Railway network dating back to 1931 operating on a metre-gauge line from Beach to Tambaram. Two more suburban lines, Chennai CentralArakkonam and Chennai Central–Gummidipoondi began operations in 1985. The first phase of Chennai Mass Rapid Transit System between Chennai Beach and Thirumyilai opened in 1997 with extension to Velachery in 2007.[9] Modelled after the Delhi Metro, a similar modern metro rail system was planned for Chennai by Delhi Metro chief E Sreedharan, at the request of Government of Tamil Nadu.


In 2007-08, 50 crore (US$7.7 million) was sanctioned for preliminary works which included a Detailed Project Report to be prepared by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.[10] The project was approved by the state cabinet on 7 November 2007 and was to be executed by a Special Purpose Vehicle, the Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL). Seven lines were planned by the DMRC for the Chennai Metro network.[11] Planning commission gave in-principle approval for the project on 16 April 2008.[12] On 21 November 2009, a deal was signed with Japan Banking Corporation for loan.[13]


Fully enclosed platform screen doors installed in Chennai Metro's underground stations

In February 2009, Hyderabad-based Soma Enterprise was awarded a 199.2 crore (US$31 million) contract for the construction of a 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi) long viaduct along the Inner Ring Road.[14] In March 2009, a five-member consortium led by Egis Rail SA, France was awarded US$ 30 million contract for general consultancy contract.[15] On May 20, CMRL started to evaluate the integration of Metro corridor with the planned grade separator at the junction of Arcot Road and Jawaharlal Nehru Road.[16] The construction started on 10 June 2009 with the piling work for the elevated viaduct between Koyambedu and Ashok Nagar stretch. In July 2009, tenders were invited for supplying rolling stock and construction of elevated viaducts for Phase I of the metro.[17][18]

In January 2011, Larsen and Toubro was awarded the contract for elevated viaducts for 314.43 crore (US$48 million).[19] In March 2011, Chennai Metro reached an agreement with Government of Japan for a loan of 2,932.6 crore (US$450 million) for the second phase.[20][21] In June, tenders for the elevated stations of the first phase was awarded to Consolidated Construction Consortium Limited.[22][23] In August 2010, the contract for supplying rolling stock was awarded to Alstom at a cost of 1,471.3 crore (US$230 million).[24][25] It was announced that the first phase will be extended by 8.9 kilometres (5.5 mi) and Larsen and Toubro was awarded a contract to construct a depot at Koyambedu.[26][27] In December 2010, DMRC submitted a report for extending Corridor-I from Washemenpet to Wimco Nagar, a distance of 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) at an estimated cost of 2,240 crore (US$340 million).[28]

In January 2011, a 449.22 crore (US$69 million) contract for design and construction of track works was awarded to a joint venture of L&T and Alstom and a 198 crore (US$30 million) contract for supply of lifts and escalators was awarded to a joint venture of Johnson Lifts and SJEC Corporation.[29][30] In February 2011, contracts were awarded for the construction of underground sections of the first phase.[31][32] The contract for power supply and overhead electrification was awarded to Siemens for 305 crore (US$47 million).[33] Contracts for Automatic Fare Collection (AFC), tunnel ventilation and air conditioning were awarded to Nippon Signal, Emirates Trading Agency and Voltas for 109.88 crore (US$17 million), 241.83 crore (US$37 million) and 196.2 crore (US$30 million).[34]

On 7 April 2012, the Madras High Court dismissed a petition filed by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage challenging the demolition of a building on Anna Salai.[35] In July 2012, the first tunnel boring machine was launched and by October 2012, eleven machines were commissioned to bore tunnels along the underground stretch by three consortiums, namely Afcons-Transtonnelstroy, L&T and SUCG, Gammon India and Mosmetrostroy involved in the construction.[36] On 6 November 2013, the test run along a stretch of 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) track was conducted.[37] On 14 February 2014, the maiden trial run for the metro was conducted between the Koyambedu and Ashok Nagar stations.[38][39][40] In August 2014, the metro received the statutory speed certification clearance from the Research Design and Standards Organisation.[41][42] In January 2015, a report was submitted to the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety for approval.[43] In April 2015, the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety inspected the rolling stock and submitted a report to the Railway Board.[44][45][46][47] On 29 June 2015, commercial operations started between Alandur and Koyambedu stations.[48] Almost a year later, on 21 September 2016, commercial operations commenced between Chennai International Airport metro station and Little Mount.


Tunnels for the Chennai Metro were drilled using Tunnel boring machines (TBMs) brought from Russia and China. In December 2011, two TBMs were shipped to Chennai from China. A total of 12 TBMs were deployed from July 2012, 8 from Germany, 2 from China, and 1 each from the United States and Japan.[49] The first tunnel work commenced in July 2012 from Nehru Park to Egmore for a distance of 948 meters. By December 2017, upon completion of the tunneling work of the Chennai Metro, all the machines were shipped backed to their origin countries. Each TBM weighed 850 tonnes and was able to drill hard surfaces, creating tunnel passages to connect underground stations. The length of the TBMs was about 85 to 90 meters. Tunnels were bored 50 feet below the surface, and each kilometer of tunneling cost 3,000 million.[50] The average length of tunneling was 6 to 8 meters a day.[51]



Line Terminal First operational Last extension Length
     Blue Line Washermanpet Chennai International Airport 21 September 2016 21 September 2016 23.1 14.3 11 6 Suburban, MRTS
     Blue Line Extension Washermanpet Wimco Nagar 2019 9 2.3 2 6 Suburban
     Green Line Chennai Central St Thomas Mount 29 June 2015 14 May 2017 22 9.7 9 8 Suburban, MRTS
Chennai Metro
Phase I
Wimco Nagar
Tiruvottiyur Bus interchange
Gowri Ashram
TolgateBus interchange
Basin Bridge
Bus interchange Chennai Central
High Court
Chennai Central
Chennai Fort
Nehru Park
Chennai Park
Kilpauk Medical College
Park Town
TN Legislative Assembly
Chintadripet Bus interchange
Pachaiyappa's College
Shenoy Nagar
LIC Bus interchange
Anna Nagar East
Anna Nagar Tower
Thousand Lights
Bus interchange Thirumangalam
Koyambedu Depot
Teynampet Bus interchange
Bus interchange Koyambedu
Chamiers Road
Bus interchange CMBT
Saidapet Bus interchange
Bus interchange Arumbakkam
Little Mount Bus interchange
Bus interchange Vadapalani
Bus interchange Ashok Nagar
Guindy Bus interchange
Bus interchange Alandur
Nanganallur Road
St. Thomas Mount Bus interchange
Chennai International AirportBus interchange Chennai Airport

 Blue Line  Wimco Nagar — Chennai International Airport
 Green Line  Chennai Central — St. Thomas Mount

Phase II
Original plan
Thousand lights
T Nagar

The Blue Line intends to cover the Anna Salai stretch and Green Line covers the Poonamallee High Road and Inner Ring Road with the Blue Line being extended from Washermanpet to Tiruvottiyur.[52][53]

Future expansion

Rail network in Chennai

In December-2016, it was announced that Chennai Metro Phase 2 would be for 104 km spreading across 104 stations.[54] In July 2017, in a suo motu statement in the State Legislative Assembly, an extension in Phase II, involving an additional cost of 38,500 million to the original phase II cost of 850,470 million, was announced. This will involve extension of Line 4 from Lighthouse up to Poonamallee, with the Madhavaram–Sholinganallur and Light House–Poonamallee lines intersecting at Alwarthirunagar.[55] The key focus for Phase 2 is to provide a stable connectivity between the northern(Madhavaram, Thiruvottiyur, Redhills) and southern suburbs(Siruseri, Sholinganallur) and the east parts of Chennai(Light house, Mylapore) to the western suburbs(Porur, Poonamalle). TNRDC(Tamil Nadu Road Development Corporation) has also proposed an elevated 17.2 km 4-lane corridor for the IT corridor from Taramani to Siruseri. CMRL will construct its piers on top of the flyover built by TNRDC.

Line Terminal Length
Line 3 Madhavaram Siruseri 45.81 kilometres (28.47 mi)
Line 4 Koyambedu Lighthouse 17.12 kilometres (10.64 mi)
Line 5 Madhavaram Sholinganallur 44.66 kilometres (27.75 mi)

The lines 3, 4 and 5 are proposed to have 45, 17 and 42 stations respectively. More than 80% of the phase 2 is expected to be underground. A depot is also proposed at Madhavaram, similar to the existing depot at Koyambedu. And the present estimate for the phase 2 is at Rs.85,000 crore and approval has been received from the state government. Construction for the phase is expected to begin in 2019 after approval from the central government.[56][57]The map and list of stations for all 3 proposed lines to be part of Phase 2 has also been published by CMRL.

Phase 2 key developments

The Union Ministry for Urban Development had spotted several holes in the DPR(Detailed Project Report) for the 107.2 km Phase 2 prepared by CMRL citing several discrepancies relevant to Phase 1.

  • Poor patronage for the operational sections of both the blue and green lines. (Initially, CMRL claimed a daily ridership of 7 lakh odd passengers per day for the entire 45 km network. The ministry questioned about the real time ridership for the operational segments(excluding Chennai Central, Chennai Egmore, Wimco Nagar to Saidapet metro stations) alone which is a meagre 25000 passengers per day. This is contradictory to the figures expected by the minisry which should have been 4 lakhs approximately by now.[58]
  • CMRL has stated that the low patronage was due to the fact that the transit hubs like Chennai Central, Chennai Egmore were yet to become operational where more number passengers are expected to use the metro.[59]
  • CMRL claimed that the metro stations for the Phase 2 would be smaller than those belonging to Phase 1 especially the underground section and there would be no eateries as well.[60] This would ensure faster construction of stations and also cut cost.
  • The metro in phase 2 is being planned to cover the entire IT corridor which will cut the travel time by a significant margin considering the traffic along the stretch. Also, the move is expected to decongest the overcrowded MTC buses.[61][62]

MRTS takeover

The MRTS (Mass Rapid Transit System) is anticipated to be handed over to CMRL by the Southern Railway. All the stations from Velachery to Beach will be upgraded with the facilities of the metro stations which includes tracks, ticketing system and the rolling stock.[63]


When the project was initiated in 2007, the estimated cost of the first phase was 14,600 crore (US$2.2 billion) with a forecasted 5% increase.[64] As of 2014, the cost for the first phase escalated to 20,000 crore (US$3.1 billion).[65] The cost for the second phase was estimated at 44,000 crore (US$6.7 billion) with the project funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). JICA has sanctioned concessional loan amounts of 8,877 crore (US$1.4 billion) for the project.[66]


Chennai Metro runs in standard gauge measuring 1,435 millimetres (56.5 in) and the lines are double-tracked.[67] The rail tracks were manufactured in Brazil and the raw material was supplied by Tata Steel. The average speed of operation is 35 kilometres per hour (22 mph) and maximum speed is 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph).[68] Chennai Metro operates trains from 6:00 am to 22:00 hours [69] with a frequency of one train every 4.5 minutes in peak hours and every 15 minutes in lean hours.[70] CMRL plans to increase the frequency to one train every 2.5 minutes once footfalls reach 600,000 passengers a day.[71]


The minimum fare is 10 and the maximum fare is 70.[72] The first car in each train will be first class with tickets costing twice as much as the second class tickets.[73][74]

Administration and maintenance

The Chennai metro has a depot at Koyambedu with ballast-less tracks of 15 kilometres (9.3 mi). It covers an area of 26 hectares and houses 36 trains.[75] The depot houses maintenance workshops, stabling lines, a test track and a washing plant for the trains.[76] It also houses the Operational Control Centre (OCC) where the movement of trains and real-time CCTV footages obtained from the stations and on-board cameras is monitored.[77] The company plans to build a headquarters building near the facility.[78]

To prevent corrosion of train surfaces due to bird droppings, the depot has been fitted with ultrasonic bird repellers and bird strobe lights to prevent birds from entering the depot.[75]


Rolling Stock

Alstom was awarded the contract to supply 168 coaches to Chennai Metro at a cost of 1,470 crore (US$230 million).[79] Alstom will supply 42 train-sets (metropolis model) composed of four coaches each with each car measuring 22.5 metres (74 ft) in length and can accommodate 319 passengers.[80] The trains will have a first-class compartment and a women's section with 14 seats in the first-class car and 44 seats in the normal car. The first nine trains will be imported from Brazil and the remaining will be manufactured at a new facility set up Tada about 75 kilometres (47 mi) from Chennai.[81][82] The trains are air-conditioned with electrically operated automatic sliding doors and a regenerative braking system. The cars will operate on 25 KV AC through an overhead catenary system with a maximum speed of 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph).[83]


The trains are connected to the grid via overhead electric cables and are equipped with regenerative braking with a capacity to recover 30–35% of the energy during braking.[84] The metro will require an average of 70 MW of power daily and the electricity will be supplied by Tamil Nadu Electricity Board.[85] Chennai Metro is also planning to use solar power for five of its stations on the elevated corridor, with a production capacity of 200 KW.[86]


A total of 32 stations have been planned along the two lines of the first phase with 20 underground stations. In the underground sections, a walkway runs along the length with cross passages every 250 metres (820 ft) for the maintenance and emergency evacuation.[87] The underground stations will have an average width of 220 metres (720 ft) to 390 metres (1,280 ft) and will go up to 50 feet (15 m) deep from the ground level.[88] The length of the underground stations is 230 metres (750 ft). However, the length of the stations, both underground and elevated, in Phase 1 extension is only 180 metres (590 ft) to save space.[51] The elevated stations will have three levels, namely, street, concourse and platform with the concourse level at an average height of 5.65 metres (18.5 ft) and platforms for boarding at 12.6 metres (41 ft) above the street level.[89] Underground stations will have two levels and will be air-conditioned. The metro stations are disabled and elderly friendly equipped with automatic fare collection system, announcement system, electronic display boards, escalators and lifts. The stations are equipped with non-slippery flooring with grip-rails, audio announcements and Braille facilities to help visually challenged passengers.[90] Parking facilities will be available only in select stations.[91]


The metro system will provide connections with various other transportation modes in the city.[92][93][94]

Accidents and incidents

  • In August 2012, a construction worker was killed and six others were seriously injured due to a crane boom failure near Pachaiyappa's College.[95]
  • On 10 January 2013, a 22-year-old construction worker was killed and three others were injured at a Metro Rail site on Railway Station Road between Alandur and St Thomas Mount at around 3:45 am.[95]
  • On 11 January 2014, an accident involving a crane had occurred. The crane had toppled over, killing a 20-year-old construction worker and seriously injuring one other worker. The accident took place at 6:45 am at the construction site of the Saidapet station.[96]
  • On 17 June 2015, a 30-year-old Software Engineer, L Giridharan was killed on the spot when an iron rod fell on him at an under construction Metro Rail station near Officers Training Academy at St Thomas Mount around 9 am. The iron rod also hit motorcyclist U Mansoor, who escaped with minor injuries.[97]


The metro was viewed as "unaffordable" by the common man as the fares were very high for short distances. This had officially made Chennai metro the second most expensive in the country after Mumbai.[98]


See also


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External links