The clickety clackity of the train… arrives on the platform with a flurry of smoke and dust with it…? Not anymore, yes this is July 1984 when the India’s first metro came whooshing in the platform and the awestruck passengers knew that it had brought with it a change of the times. Little they knew that this would sprout new bourgeoisie city life.
Metro rail first started with Calcutta and has never aged since then. These tracks have mapped the length and breadth of the country like veins. For some, the train journey is poetic, for some it is economical. This is one journey that everyone takes for sheer sense of travelling. Did you know Kolkata still issued magnetic paper ticket for the past 27 years? It has finally switched over to smart cards and token coins. We are here to reflect and chronicle one of the most trusted ways of transportation in India’s history that has been successfully running for people of all classes.
The Kaleidoscopic Journey
The Need & its making
Let us take a few steps back into history and see what created it.
As India turned a new leaf after colonialism whitewashed the entire city, it was as if history was being re-written. City planners ran into troubles and public existence seemingly caught in the spell of the smoke of the British legacy. Kolkata, Delhi and other cities desired the felt need for a genuine transportation setup.
Various ideas were tossed suggesting substitutes but systems such as the Metropolitan Transport Railways and the recently formed DMRC almost acted as the last turn on that screw. Today the metro line is a breather for people who still follow punctuality. Well, the situation has changed and metropolitan folks cannot think about a life without the metro.
Sangeet na bajaye. Kripya farsh par na baithe… we do get the 1980s feel with such announcements but it is everything to us. Who can think of commuting from Nehru Place to Dwarka in an hour’s time and that too an uninterrupted air-conditioned journey? Similarly, if one wants to travel from Baranagar to Dakshineshwar, just hop on to the bustling metro and sharing an argument or two about Mamta Banerjee till you reach your destination.
This was the initiative of the hour and today it indeed has breathed a sigh of relief for regular commuters. This brings us to the Mumbai metro which is under construction. Unlike other metro cities, this rail journey promises to share the burden that the local rail is suffering from. A far cry from the city has led to this initiative today. Metro in Mumbai promises:
• To provide cross-connectivity to the Eastern and the Western areas, and
• To provide a comfortable and a sophisticated journey for the Mumbai locals.
It is as if, the metro has become the only chronicler of the city’s history. Old tracks have seen history being formed again and again alongside which new ones have been laid afresh. This is the world behind its wheels— the local metro. It is not long that cities would be built around metros instead of the other way round!