Posted in Environment

Metropolitan

The Doha Metro has given some of us women who are home birds who do not drive, an excellent opportunity to explore the cityscape like never before. The fares are too very modest. The metro stations are at strategic locations. From any point in the city, there are shuttle services operating that pick up and drop commuters at the metro stations for no extra charge. The metro network, just like in my hometown in Chennai, is part underground and part overhead. I guess, I have commuted more by Doha metro than by Chennai metro up until now, even if I live within a kilometer of my nearest underground CMRL station in Chennai. I have used Chennai metro for commuting to domestic airport with just my hand baggage. The connectivity is too good, saves time and energy and is economic. Some use the metro even for international terminal if they travel light. To put it in a capsule, the airport link and the city central bus terminal link and the central railway link are the highlights of the Chennai metro. However, I don’t think Doha metro plies to airport.

Although I love Doha Metro, I have been given tour of the Chennai metro when the project (phase 1) was underway. The men in my family witnessed the tunnel boring etc (for their interest in execution). In Chennai, we have the Coovum river flowing underground in some sections. In the junction at Central, Chennai Metro is operational at three levels – one is the MRTS from Velachery, the second is from the suburban from Tambaram with the third level being the Metro. We have to note that not all the three are metro. The first two are from the older railways networks of the city that have been conveniently merged with the Metro with options for interchangeability. The beauty is, at this point at Central and upto Egmore, the levels are above and under the Coovum river under terrain! The engineer in charge beautifully explained the technicality of this and the engineering precision to achieve this aspect! The course of the river stream is left untouched apparently! My only concern is, to make the route underground waterproof, how much moisture has been permanently sucked out of Chennai earth. How many downstream currents and water channels have been blocked. Some even blame the metro network (underground) for the city going under deluge in recent monsoons. Overhead metro is preferable for this reason. As Chennai metro is expanding nonstop adding more and more kilometers to serve far flung suburbs, the city is shrinking no doubt. The common man stands to benefit. Hopefully the new connections will be overhead. Mass transport is the only way ahead for metropolitan cities like Chennai.

Doha unlike Chennai need not have to be concerned with unprecedented monsoons or rivers and streams. It must have been that much easier to establish the network here.

Quality of service in both cities is impeccable. In Doha I noticed the ‘gold’ carriage for discerning commuters. I am delightfully the ‘aam aadmi’ but I do prefer traveling in the family coach.

Qatar national library is easily accessible with metro. And so are other landmarks. Shopping is far more convenient. Most of all, I am independent finally!

Interestingly, both Doha metro and Chennai metro were feared to be non viable commercially in the initial stages. However, they now register impressive gross breaking even since long.

The driverless metros that are automatic, are not merely engineering marvel, but are also pollution free. One good reason to expand the metro network.

Its not just about the connectivity. Metros are more about catering to the masses. World class facilities that are made affordable and accessible to the general janata of our nation finally. This can work wonders for economies.

I am seeing school kids and college goers and service staff and sales people and bosses rubbing shoulders here in Doha metro. Never do you feel on equal footing with everyone around you as you do when you ride the metro. A great equalizer. A big decongestant of city traffic. Life saver I must say!

Doha metro maintenance is par excellence. Would it be too much to expect the metro networks in India to maintain their standards sans dilution? Tolerance for vandalism must be zero.

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