In coming months, several trial runs will be conducted on elevated stretch

At a quarter to twelve on Saturday afternoon, the train operator switches to ‘isolator mode’ and presses the ‘start’ button.

With a slight jolt, the Chennai Metro Rail train takes off from CMBT Metro Rail station. Since it is only a trial run, the train crawls at 10 kmph on the elevated corridor and reaches Ashok Nagar in half an hour.

While the train doors open automatically, they shut only after the driver looks at the CCTV cameras and hits the close button.

The pre-recorded announcements inform passengers of the route and destination details; this, apart from the electronic route map in both English and Tamil on either side of each car.

Should there be an emergency, there is an internal manual alarm or passengers can speak directly to the train operator through the intercom; there is also a helpline displayed inside the train which will enable passengers to contact Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL).

The trains that took shape in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Sri City, Andhra Pradesh, will last at least 30 years and are equipped with regenerative braking that has the capacity to recover 30-35 per cent of the energy during braking.

So far, of the nine trains manufactured in Brazil, five have arrived in Chennai and will be put through the trial run after two months, says an official of CMRL.

The first of the remaining 33 trains manufactured at the Sri City plant will arrive in the city later this month, says L. Narasim Prasad, director (systems and operations), CMRL.

“Each train will have a special class in which a third of the seats will be common and the other two-thirds will be exclusively for women. At first, we plan to use nine trains for operations,” he says. Chennaiites may spot an empty train going up and down the city, over the next nine months, after which they will be able to hop on to Chennai Metro and travel from Koyambedu to Alandur.

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