Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day out on the Namma Metro

My initial curiosity towards the Namma Metro project was not very high as I was not able to relate to most of the places in Bengaluru being a newcomer and neither could I appreciate the benefits it would bring in due to lack of knowledge of the topography unlike Chennai. As days neared for the opening of this Public Transportation marvel, i was waiting do my first metro fanning session.

After many a dilly dallying, the Namma Metro was finally opened to public, the stretch though just 6.7km in length was a big leap for public transportation in Bangalore. The day metro was opened, SSC-India was abuzz with good coverage from the forumers and I was really impressed with photo sets shared by individuals and was charged up to cover the section before a blanket ban comes on photography in the metro terminals. Media talked about the huge crowds that were thronging the metro stations and I had to be bit careful in planning. Got in touch with a forumer who had done the section and he gave me some good tips to do the journey.

Having spent some good time in Chennai which is blessed with a good multi model transport system, I was always at discomfort not seeing such a rapid system in Bangalore where the 6000 odd BMTC buses have to jostle their way among the pile of cars and not to quote the unruly two wheeler lot. Having traveled often in the suburban system of Chennai, the idea of a mass rapid system was not new to me, but the same concept with additional passenger amenities like air conditioned coaches, clean stations which are well guarded and have high penetration of technology into the ticketing system and operations was something I was totally new to.

MG Road Namma Metro Station

Namma Metro Logo

Armed with some basic idea i started my Diwali day and my plan was to start from the MG Road station. Lean crowds at the station were a big respite, browsed through the displays in the station with regards to the tickets and finally decided to buy a Varshik prepaid card. The counter staff was helpful enough to give some info on the usage of cards at the terminals. The card cost me a one time payment of rupees fifty and thereafter 50X recharges were possible. Icing on the cake is the 15% discount that these cards offer for every journey you undertake using these cards. I crossed the gates by swiping my card which showed the balance, people who just wanted a single journey had to show their tokens to be allowed into the platform area.

Metro Varshik Prepaid Card

Platforms were pretty clean and looked more functional. Electronic boards on the platforms give sufficient information about the train operations though some amount of awareness is required to understand them. I will try to showcase the various display announcements meant for the passenger that are dished out in the stations premises and on board the metro cars in this write up.(My Picasa album though would be the best place to take a tour of this system)

Every other person present was a curious tourist and few were on a family outing to check out the newcomer to their beloved city. Too many guards were posted on the platforms to help people and again to keep in check the unruly kid who pops out in such anxious moments in people of India. I went to the corner of a platform to avoid bit of the crowd and made ready my camera to shoot the blue eyed boy who will land any time. The security guard came to me requested me to shut down my camera with a couple of pics. I obliged and there I had my first darshan of a metro rake in my life. The train looked very neatly done.

Functional platforms with markings on floor for pax entry/exit

A typical metro platform with lot of signages. Notice the third rail (yellow) one which supplies the power to the rake

Few Digital boards in the station area:

A display board indicating the arrival of train in 8mins heading to MG Rd station

Next train to Baiyapanahalli is at 10:12hrs reads the board

My first close spotting of the metro rake, the purple color around the coach indicates this one to be part fo the purple line

A map of the Metro section:

Source: Namma Metro official site

Namma Metro system is based on a the Standard gauge with a third rail running along supplying the power to propel the coaches. Being the second metro post liberalization era, it had lot of it's learning's from its mentor the Delhi Metro which even had to accept the Broad Gauge rail initially due to the pressure from IR. The current section that has been opened to traffic runs from MG Road to Baiyapanahalli(which will serve the purpose of yard with maintenance facilities). The current section is fully overhead and is part of the Purple line that is planned to run from Mysore Road station to Baiyapanahalli. The idea is basically to connect two ends of the Outer Ring Road.

Interiors of the metro coach

The metro coach is neatly designed one with seating arrangement only on the sides which serves the purpose of carrying more passengers. Currently three car formations are running and have a carrying capacity of 1000 people per formation. The coaches were buit by a consortium of BEML, Hyundai-Rotem and Mistubishi Electric. Mitsubishi supplied the traction for the coaches, Hyundai-Rotem the components and BEML took the task to integrate, test and commission the coaches.

I got into the first car of the formation and pulled out my camera, took some pics of the coach. Initial acceleration of the coach is too good to throw you off your balance and then the ride becomes smooth and noiseless due to the ballast-less track. I put my cam into the video mode and covered the section till 6th minute of the journey. Meanwhile there were enough curious eyes trying to understand what on earth is this guy doing on the metro instead of enjoying the ride. Having faced such glares enough in my fanning sessions, i just went on doing my usual act to capture as much as possible of the coach features. Will try to put some here ...

looks interesting right...the multiple bars enable more people to grab it! What an idea SirJi!!

Information dished out to the passengers on board the metro:

Arrival announcement at a station

Karnataka Tourism Promos on board

Destination details of the trip

Information on the arrival of stations, the end point and other areas of caution a passenger need to exert while using the coach are also announced in the coach. As the entire lot out on the train were end to end travelers, not much people got down at the way side stations. You could hear fathers showing the kids the various landmarks of the city through the big glass windows. Also on board were people from all walks of life who wanted to have a feel of this new baby in town which they hope will one day make Bangalore a commuter friendly city. Cruising at 60-65kmph without obstacles was a new experience for many inside the heart of the city.

The curves present on the Bangalore metro are bit sharp due to narrow roads and unlike the Delhi metro where the minimum curve is 200 degree, namma metro has a tough task of encountering a minimum of 120 degree curves. Due to these curves of high order, CRS has clamped a maximum of only 6 cars per formation limit.

Few sharp curves i came across:

a sharp curve before the Swami Vivekananda Rd station

14 minutes passed in a jiffy and the unheard thing happened, i had covered 6.7kms distance in the heart of the Bangalore city in 14 minutes flat. The best part being, being this travel time would be flat irrespective of the part of the day. Should sound irresistible to Bangaloreans who should have taken 30-40mins doing this in buses or autos.

Getting out of the train, i saw an army of security guards guiding people to exit gates. Only soar point that i could observe here was the inablity of our people to behave bit organized in such situations. People jostled before the exit swipe gates and took double the time to exit than if they had formed a queue. Our people are our people you see them at Baiyapanahallli or at the Heathrow airport !!

Heading out of the platform area was a huge ramp which lead to the station building. The ramps give a good view of the maintenance infrastructure in the form of coaching depots which look huge and well planned. Took some shots of the facility and found it hard to move out as there was too much to observe and digest for that day. The fire truck which runs on the rails was tucked away in its shed and few metro rakes were being attended to in their pit lines. Having completed the first leg of the journey, i was bit dissappointed with not being allowed to take pictures at this last station.

Metro Yard

Pit Lines

Pit Lines on the other side of the station

Old Madras Rd Side view of the Baiyapanahalli Station

Unique Fire Engine of the Namma Metro

Baiyapanahalli Station

After spending some time at the Baiyapanahalli station, i decided to get down at one of the in between stations to have a feel of the trains crossing a station and also take pics if it was a sort of deserted station. Trinity fitted the bill and made my way back on the train heading the MG Rd station. Was very happy to see a nearly empty station and took some shots of the metro approaching and passing with minimal hindrance...Spent some time understanding and asking some questions to the metro staff of the Triniy station who were not that busy due to lean crowds over there.

Metro rake zipping past the Trinity station

Metro brothers posing together at Trinity station

With some contention of completing this landmark section, i took the next train to MG road station.

In all this fanning session of mine was a memorable one being altogether new mode of transport. I have put down the pics i could grab that day with detailed explanation in my Picasa album. People who still feel hungry for information can jump into it. If you still need more, check out my YouTube video for 6 min which i have recorded during my journey.

Picasa Album link: Namma Metro @ Picasa

You tube Video link: Namma Metro @ Youtube