Chennai Metro-MRTS merger: How it will change connectivity in south Chennai

[] We look at the reasons for the delay in the merger between the Chennai MRTS and the Chennai Metro at St Thomas Mount and the impact it will have on the real estate market in south Chennai

The metropolitan city of Chennai was the first to figure out how urbanisation and suburban development, could boost the economy in the decades to come. Therefore, to ensure that all areas of the city were catered to, with smooth commuting facilities, the Chennai Suburban Railway and the Mass Rapid Transit System plans were conceived. Later, the Chennai Metro took shape, which further boosted the connectivity. Now, the authorities are planning to create an integrated transport model, which will connect all the three railway lines with each other. For this, the Chennai MRTS and Chennai Metro are being merged into one entity.

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How will Chennai Metro merge with MRTS

Conceived as a game-changing connectivity measure, the Chennai Mass Rapid Transit System was India’s first elevated railway line. Covering a distance of 19 kms between Chennai Beach and Velachery, it soon became a lifeline for many areas. The original idea was to connect all suburban areas in southern Chennai, where IT companies and the manufacturing sector would have their base, with the central business district of Chennai.

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A number of expansion plans were in process until the Chennai Metro came into picture. It was then decided that the metro would take over the MRTS and the two would merge at St Thomas Mount, to complete the loop along the Inner Ring Road. The Chennai Metro has already taken over most of the developing corridors in the IT hub of Chennai. The only link between central Chennai and the southern region is the MRTS line, which will be merged with the metro in 2021. However, the missing link between Velachery MRTS and St Thomas Mount Metro Station, has created hurdles.

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The merger will introduce a number of changes in the MRTS system, which will include bringing all the elevated and underground tracks under one organisation. The stations would become air conditioned and services would improve but the fares would increase, which would impact ridership.

Chennai Metro

St Thomas Mount

Why the MRTS-Metro merger is being delayed?

At present, the Chennai MRTS is struggling with land acquisition issues. Land is required to expand from the existing station at Velachery to the metro station of St Thomas Mount, a 5-km distance. Only 500 metres of land is left to be acquired. The ongoing fight with the landowners over compensation, has already delayed the project by 10 years. Now, the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority has approached the Supreme Court to put a stay on the order of the Madras High Court, which ordered the authority to pay the landowners higher compensation. According to the landowners, the land has been acquired by the authority but the compensation is yet to be rolled-out.

The original plan of integrating the MRTS and the metro services has so far been replaced by shuttle services to connect these areas. This has dampened the sentiments of the buyers, who were hoping for smoother connectivity along this corridor, which also has some of the most congested areas in the city.

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How will the merger impact the connectivity?

To be extended at an expense of Rs 150 crores, the Chennai MRTS was to cross St Thomas Mount and go up to Manali via Anna Nagar but with the Chennai Metro coming in with operational facilities between Mount to Central via Anna Nagar, the idea of merging the Metro and the MRTS seems to be more cost-effective and futuristic.

Now, if and when the MRTS line is extended to St Thomas Mount from Velachery, the Beach-Tambaram EMU and Beach-Velachery MRTS will meet at St Thomas Mount, forming a fully functional integrated model. The interchange between the suburban, MRTS and the metro line, is presently available only at Park, Fort and Beach stations. With St Thomas Mount becoming operational, people staying in the southern suburbs like Velachery, Adambakkam and Nanganallur, will be able to access the suburban rail network via Meenambakam.

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What is Chennai MRTS?

Chennai MRTS is an elevated suburban railway network that connects Chennai Beach to Velachery.

Where Chennai MRTS and Metro will be merged?

Chennai MRTS and Metro will merge at St Thomas Mount.

At which stations are Metro, MRTS and suburban rail available in Chennai?

Presently, interchange facilities are available between the three rail modes at Beach, Fort and Park stations.

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Category: Lifestyle

Debora Berti

Università degli Studi di Firenze, IT

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