Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The new Metro - Rapid sketches of mass rapid transport

On 30th June 2015, the new Metro line in our city was inaugurated. It was, quite literally the talk of the town. The Metro has been under construction for 6 years and last week only a short stretch - a tiny sampling - was thrown open to the public. All the major dailies carried stories and first hand reports for several days, so on Sunday a tiny group of us - 3 sketchers - decided to go on a joyride and sketch the experience.

 I wasn't sure if there would be resistance from the staff to sketching. In many heritage sites across India photography is allowed but sketching is banned! In the Delhi Metro photography itself is not allowed. So I took a really small sketch pad and resolved to keep each sketch under five minutes in duration. The platforms are high up at the top and after feeding money into the automatic ticket vending machines we took some really long escalator rides up to the platform.

The vaulted roof is open down the middle at Alandur station where we boarded the train and the whole station is bright and clean - at least for now.

On the train to Koyambedu there are only six stops. The same distance which in rush hour will take you over an hour can be done in under fifteen minutes. On Sunday morning the train was not crowded but there weren't too many empty spots on the benches either. Many families looked like they had come just for a joyride.... like us! 

More than the parents the kids were really thrilled. Though the ride is short you get a great view of the city from above.
When we reached Koyambedu station we had to climb up a level and cross over the platform before descending again to exit. The level up brought us right up to the base of the arch trusses that held up the station roof. Another quick stop to dash off another sketch. Peering down from the parapet the platforms and trains were laid out below us.
From that level the trusses and space frames were a real visual jungle. Someone reminded us that the ticket token is timed (not sure if it's true) and that we should use it to get out soon.
The Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) has bought automatic ticket/gate machines from Japan. The token is kept against a sensor on our way in and the gate opens.On the way out you deposit the same token into a slot so that it allows your exit. Quite simple but for the ever increasing crowds it was all wondrous and baffling. By the time we came out the crowds had swelled considerably and flustered staff were trying to get people to queue up and wait till the machine reset itself for the next person. Queues themselves are a near impossible challenge in our country, and when you add automation to that the novelty is too high!

I really hope it stays clean, disciplined and the rest of the green and blue lines open soon.


  1. Very crisp details abt metro and a very neat sketch :)

  2. Beautiful sketches and wonderful narration.

    1. Thanks very much Chandran Rama