Chennai Metro

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Chennai Metro Rail service
Chennai Metro logo.svg
Chennai Metro Rail at Koyambedu.JPG
Train arriving at the Koyambedu Metro Station
OwnerChennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL)
LocaleChennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Transit typeRapid Transit
Number of lines2 (operational), 3 (under construction)
Number of stations42
Daily ridership125,000
HeadquartersPoonamallee High Road, Koyambedu, Chennai 600107
Began operation29 June 2015; 5 years ago (2015-06-29)
Operator(s)Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL)
Number of vehicles52
Train length86.5 m (284 ft)
Headway5–14 Minutes
System length55 km (34 mi) (operational)
118.9 km (73.9 mi) (Phase ll – under construction)
15.3 km (9.5 mi) (Line 1 southern extension - dpr in progress)
25 km (16 mi) (MRTS in conversion to broad gauge metro)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification25 kV, 50 Hz AC through overhead catenary
Top speed80 km/h (50 mph)
System map

Schematic diagram of Chennai Metro

The Chennai Metro is a rapid transit system serving the city of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.[1][2] It is the third longest metro system in India after Delhi Metro and Hyderabad metro. The system commenced service in 2015 after partially opening the first phase of the project. The network consists of two colour-coded lines covering a length of 55 kilometres (34 mi).[3] The Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL), a joint venture between Government of India and the Government of Tamil Nadu built and operates the Chennai Metro. The system has a mix of underground and elevated stations and uses standard gauge. The services operate daily between 4:30 and 23:00 with a varying frequency of 5 to 14 minutes.[4] As of November 2019, about 121,000 people use the service on a daily basis.[5] There are 52 trains with four coaches each, making a total of 208 coaches, operating in the first phase and its extension.

The system has also planned to takeover the existing Chennai Mass Rapid Transit System by 2021,[6] which would be upgraded to operate using the rolling stock of the Chennai Metro.[7] CMRL was recognised by the International Association of Public Transport in 2011.[8]

Construction of the first stretch began in June 2009, which spanned the seven stations Koyambedu to Alandur over a distance of 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) and began operation on 29 June 2015. As of February 2021, Chennai Central to St. Thomas Mount on the Green line and Wimco Nagar to Chennai International Airport on Blue line are commercially operational which brings the total operational network to 55 km (34 mi) making it the third largest operating metro system in India, after the Delhi metro (347.6 km [216.0 mi]) and Hyderabad metro (69.00 km [42.87 mi]).



Chennai had an established Chennai Suburban Railway network that spanned from Beach to Tambaram, which dates back to 1931 and operated on a metre-gauge line.[9] This service is now being continued after conversion to broad gauge line.[10] The suburban network also consists of two more suburban lines, the west bound Chennai CentralArakkonam suburban service and the North Line, Chennai Suburban connecting Chennai Central–Gummidipoondi service which began operations in 1985 from the Moore Market Complex. The two above-mentioned lines were being operated from the main platforms of Chennai Central station until 1985 after which they were shifted to the adjacent Moore Market Complex. The first phase of Chennai Mass Rapid Transit System between Chennai Beach and Thirumayilai opened in 1997 with extension to Velachery in 2007.[11] Modeled after the Delhi Metro, a similar modern metro rail system was planned for Chennai by Delhi Metro chief E Sreedharan due to his special interest in the Chennai city.[12]


In 2007–08, 50 crore (US$7.0 million) was sanctioned for preliminary work, which included a Detailed Project Report to be prepared by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.[13] The project was approved by the state cabinet on 7 November 2007 and was to be executed by a Special Purpose Vehicle, the Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL). Seven lines were planned by the DMRC for the Chennai Metro network.[14] Planning commission gave in-principle approval for the project on 16 April 2008.[15] On 21 November 2009, a deal was signed with the Japan Banking Corporation for a loan.[16]


Full-height enclosed platform screen doors installed in Chennai Metro's underground stations

In February 2009, Hyderabad-based Soma Enterprise was awarded a 199.2 crore (US$28 million) contract for the construction of a 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi) long viaduct along the Inner Ring Road.[17] In March 2009, a five-member consortium led by Egis Rail SA, France was awarded US$30 million contract for general consultancy contract.[18] On 20 May, CMRL started to evaluate the integration of metro corridor with the planned grade separator at the junction of Arcot Road and Jawaharlal Nehru Road.[19] The construction started on 10 June 2009 with the piling work for the elevated viaduct between Koyambedu and Ashok Nagar stretch. In July 2009, tenders were invited for supplying rolling stock and construction of elevated viaducts for Phase I of the metro.[20][21]

In January 2011, Larsen and Toubro was awarded the contract for elevated viaducts for 314.43 crore (US$44 million).[22] In March 2011, Chennai Metro reached an agreement with the Government of Japan for a loan of 2,932.6 crore (US$410 million) for the second phase.[23][24] In June, tenders for the elevated stations of the first phase were awarded to Consolidated Construction Consortium Limited.[25][26] In August 2010, the contract for supplying rolling stock was awarded to Alstom at a cost of 1,471.3 crore (US$210 million).[27][28] It was announced that the first phase would be extended by 8.9 kilometres (5.5 mi) and Larsen and Toubro was awarded a contract to construct a depot at Koyambedu.[29][30] In December 2010, DMRC submitted a report for extending Corridor-I from Washemenpet to Wimco Nagar, a distance of 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) at an estimated cost of 2,240 crore (US$310 million).[31]

In January 2011, a 449.22 crore (US$63 million) contract for design and construction of track works was awarded to a joint venture of L&T and Alstom and a 198 crore (US$28 million) contract for supply of lifts and escalators was awarded to a joint venture of Johnson Lifts and SJEC Corporation.[32][33] In February 2011, contracts were awarded for the construction of underground sections of the first phase.[34][35] The contract for power supply and overhead electrification was awarded to Siemens for 305 crore (US$43 million).[36] Contracts for automatic fare collection (AFC), tunnel ventilation and air conditioning were awarded to Nippon Signal, Emirates Trading Agency and Voltas for 109.88 crore (US$15 million), 241.83 crore (US$34 million) and 196.2 crore (US$28 million).[37]

On 7 April 2012, the Madras High Court dismissed a petition filed by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage challenging the demolition of a building on Anna Salai.[38] In July 2012, the first tunnel boring machine was launched and by October 2012, eleven machines were commissioned to bore tunnels along the underground stretch by three consortiums, namely Afcons-Transtonnelstroy, L&T and SUCG, Gammon India and Mosmetrostroy involved in the construction.[39] On 6 November 2013, the test run along a stretch of 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) track was conducted.[40] On 14 February 2014, the maiden trial run for the metro was conducted between the Koyambedu and Ashok Nagar stations.[41][42][43] In August 2014, the metro received the statutory speed certification clearance from the Research Design and Standards Organisation.[44][45] In January 2015, a report was submitted to the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety for approval.[46] In April 2015, the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety inspected the rolling stock and submitted a report to the Railway Board.[47][48][49][50] On 29 June 2015, commercial operations started between Alandur and Koyambedu stations.[51] Almost a year later, on 21 September 2016, commercial operations commenced between Chennai International Airport metro station and Little Mount. Commercial operations commenced in the first underground line between Thirumangalam metro station to Nehru Park metro station on 14 May 2017.[52] The underground stretches – Nehru Park metro station to Chennai Central metro station and Saidapet metro station to AG-DMS metro station were opened a year later on 25 May 2018.[53] On 10 February 2019, the underground stretch from AG-DMS to Washermanpet of blue line was opened, completing 45 km (28 mi) phase 1 of the metro.[54]


Tunnels for the Chennai Metro were drilled using Tunnel boring machines (TBMs) brought from Russia and China. In December 2011, two TBMs were shipped to Chennai from China. A total of 12 TBMs were deployed from July 2012, 8 from Germany, 2 from China, and 1 each from the United States and Japan.[55] The first tunnel work commenced in July 2012 from Nehru Park to Egmore for a distance of 948 meters. By December 2017, upon completion of the tunneling work of the Chennai Metro, all the machines were shipped backed to their origin countries. Each TBM weighed 850 tonnes and was able to drill hard surfaces, creating tunnel passages to connect underground stations. The length of the TBMs was about 85 to 90 meters. Tunnels were bored 50 feet below the surface, and each kilometer of tunneling cost 3,000 million.[56] The average length of tunneling was 6 to 8 meters a day.[57]


Phase I[edit]

Current Length
Line Terminal First operational Last extension Length
Stations Rolling Stock Track Gauge (mm) Power Average Frequency (Minutes)
Blue Line Wimco Nagar Chennai International Airport 21 September 2016 14 February 2021 32.15 25 52 trains 1,435 25 kV OHE 5
Green Line M.G.R Central St Thomas Mount 29 June 2015 25 May 2018 22 17 1,435 25 kV OHE 5
Total 54.15 42

The original Blue Line covers the Anna Salai stretch and Green Line covers the Poonamallee High Road and Inner Ring Road.[58][59] Phase I and its extension has a total of 208 coaches (52 trains with 4 coaches each).

Phase I Extension[edit]

Phase I extension is a 9.051 kilometres (5.624 mi) northern extension of the Blue Line running from Washermanpet metro station to Wimco Nagar.[60] The line runs underground for the first 2.4 km (1.5 mi) until Tondiarpet after which it becomes elevated along the Thiruvottriyur high road and consists of a total of nine stations.[61] The total cost of this project is 37,700 million and is funded by Japanese International Cooperation Agency.

The trial runs were conducted successfully in December 2020 and the line opened for passenger traffic on 14 February 2021.[62][63]

In 2018, a 15.3 km (9.5 mi) southern extension of the Blue Line from Airport Station, which is currently the southern terminus, to the upcoming Kilambakkam Bus Terminus was announced.[64] In 2019, Larsen and Toubro were engaged by CMRL to conduct the feasibility study,[65] but as of 2021 construction has not started.

Phase II[edit]

Metro man E.Sreedharan, in 2013, stressed on the need of a greater expansion of Chennai metro network by undertaking subsequent phases. In December 2016, it was announced that Chennai Metro Phase 2 would be for 104 km (65 mi) spreading across 104 stations.[66] In July 2017, in a suo motu statement in the State Legislative Assembly, an extension in Phase II, involving an additional cost of 38,500 million to the original phase II cost of 850,470 million, was announced. This will involve extension of Line 4 from Lighthouse up to Poonamallee, with the MadhavaramSholinganallur and Lighthouse–Poonamallee lines intersecting at Alwarthirunagar.[67] The key focus for Phase 2 is to provide a stable connectivity between the northern (Madhavaram, Thiruvottriyur, Redhills) and southern suburbs (Siruseri, Sholinganallur) and the east parts of Chennai (Light house, Mylapore) to the western part of Chennai city (Porur) and also to western suburb (Poonamallee). Tamil Nadu Road Development Corporation (TNRDC) has also proposed an elevated 17.2 km (10.7 mi) four-lane corridor for the IT corridor from Taramani to Siruseri. CMRL will construct its piers on top of the flyover built by TNRDC.

Line Terminal Length
Number of stations
Line 3 Madhavaram Siruseri 45.81 kilometres (28.47 mi) 48
Line 4 Poonamallee Lighthouse 26.1 kilometres (16.2 mi) 28[68]
Line 5 Madhavaram Sholinganallur 47 kilometres (29 mi) 46
Total 118.9 km (73.9 mi)

The lines 3, 4 and 5 are proposed to have 48, 28 and 46 stations, respectively. Around 42 km (26 mi) of phase 2 is planned to be underground and the rest to be elevated. A depot is also proposed at Madhavaram, similar to the existing depot at Koyambedu. And the present estimate for the phase 2 is at Rs. 61,000 crore and approval has been received from the state government. Foundation stone for phase 2 was laid on 20 November 2020 and construction for the phase is expected to begin in 2021 once approval is received from the central government.[69][70] The preparatory work for the second phase of Chennai Metro Rail project has been hit due to delay in the selection of the general consultant (GC) after concerns were raised by more than 50% of bidders on the CMRL shortlisting companies based on their technical qualifications. Addressing an event in Chennai, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday 14 February 2021 said the Centre has set aside Rs 63,000 crore in this year’s Budget for the second phase of Chennai Metro totaling 196 km, which is one of the largest projects sanctioned for any city in one-go.[71] The map and list of stations for all 3 proposed lines to be part of Phase 2 has also been published by CMRL.

There are also plans to extend the Poonamallee line up to proposed township of Tirumazhisai in the western part of the city[72] by CMRL.[73] Phase 2 is expected to be completed by 2026.[74] Phase 2 will have trains with three and six coaches, making a total of 414 coaches.[75]

The stations in phase II will be smaller at 150 m (490 ft) compared with 220 m (720 ft) in phase I. Phase II will have three depots, namely, Madhavaram (27.8 hectares), SIPCOT (4.5 ha [11 acres]), and Poonamallee (15.4 ha [38 acres]).[76]

MRTS Takeover[edit]

The Chennai Mass Rapid Transit System is anticipated to be handed over to CMRL by the Southern Railway. All the stations from Velachery to Beach will be upgraded with the facilities of the metro stations which includes tracks, security, ticketing system and the rolling stock.[77]


When the project was initiated in 2007, the estimated cost of the first phase was 14,600 crore (US$2.0 billion) with a forecasted 5% increase.[78] As of 2014, the cost for the first phase escalated to 20,000 crore (US$2.8 billion).[79] The cost for the second phase was estimated at 44,000 crore (US$6.2 billion) with the project funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). JICA has sanctioned concessional loan amounts of 8,877 crore (US$1.2 billion) for the project.[80] Phase 2 is to be funded partially by JICA, AIIB, ADB and NDB.


Chennai Metro
Phase I
Wimco Nagar
Tiruvottriyur BSicon BUS.svg
Tiruvottriyur Theradi
Tollgate BSicon BUS.svg
New Washermanpet
Sir Theagaraya College
Basin Bridge
BSicon BUS.svg M.G.R Chennai Central
High Court
M.G.R Central
Chennai Fort
Nehru Park
Chennai Park
Kilpauk Medical College
Park Town
Government Estate BSicon BUS.svg
Pachaiyappa's College
Shenoy Nagar
LIC BSicon BUS.svg
Anna Nagar East
Anna Nagar Tower
Thousand Lights
BSicon BUS.svg Thirumangalam
Koyambedu Depot
Teynampet BSicon BUS.svg
BSicon BUS.svg Koyambedu
BSicon BUS.svg Jayalalithaa CMBT
Saidapet BSicon BUS.svg
BSicon BUS.svg Arumbakkam
Little Mount BSicon BUS.svg
BSicon BUS.svg Vadapalani
BSicon BUS.svg Ashok Nagar
Guindy BSicon BUS.svg
BSicon BUS.svg Arignar Anna Alandur
Nanganallur Road
St. Thomas Mount BSicon BUS.svg
BSicon FLUG.svgBSicon BUS.svgChennai International Airport

 Blue Line  Wimco Nagar — Chennai International Airport

 Green Line  M.G.R Central — St. Thomas Mount

Phase II
Original plan
Thousand lights
T Nagar
A view of the Chennai Metro at night.

Chennai Metro runs in standard gauge measuring 1,435 millimetres (56.5 in) and the lines are double-tracked.[81] The rail tracks were manufactured in Brazil and the raw material was supplied by Tata Steel. The average speed of operation is 35 kilometres per hour (22 mph) and maximum speed is 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph).[82] Chennai Metro operates trains from 4:30 AM to 11:00 PM[83] with a frequency of one train every 4.5 minutes in peak hours and every 15 minutes in lean hours.[84] CMRL plans to increase the frequency to one train every 2.5 minutes once footfalls reach 600,000 passengers a day.[85]


The minimum fare is 10 and the maximum fare is 50.[86] The first car in each train is a ladies class compartment.[87][88]

There are four types of tickets issued by CMRL for travel in Chennai metro.[89]

They are

1. Single journey tokens, which need to be purchased each time for every journey at the ticket counter or in ticket vending machines available at all stations. The rates vary between rupees 10 and rupees 60 for one journey.

2. Stored value cards (SVC) are pre-paid, rechargeable, travel cards that can be purchased at any ticket counter against a refundable deposit of rupees 50. They can be recharged up to a maximum of rupees 2000. Frequent users of Chennai metro can use this card. They can be recharged at any ticket counter or in automated ticket vending machines available at all stations. A discount of 10% is applicable for the users of SVC. Therefore, the rates vary between rupees 9 and rupees 54 for a single journey.

3. Trip Cards are for persons traveling between the same two stations regularly. The fares are discounted by 20% and are available in 3 types namely, 10 trips valid for 30 days, 30 trips valid for 90 days, and 60 trips valid for 180 days.

4. Tourist Cards provide the cardholders unlimited rides on the Chennai Metro for 1 day. It costs 150 rupees of which 50 rupees is a refundable deposit which can be claimed back on returning the card. This is ideal for persons visiting the city for a short period of time and planning to travel to their destinations by metro.

Starting from the Diwali day, 27 October 2019, CMRL announced that there will be a discount of 50% for all journeys taken on Sundays and public holidays. This discount will be applicable with single journey tokens (rupees 5 to rupees 30) and Stored Value Cards (rupees 4 to rupees 27).[90]

Order of Operation[edit]

Line Terminal First operational Length
Green Line Alandur Koyambedu 29 June 2015
Blue Line Chennai International Airport metro station Little Mount 21 September 2016
Green Line Thirumangalam Nehru Park 14 May 2017
Green Line Nehru Park Chennai Central 25 May 2018
Blue Line Saidapet AG-DMS 25 May 2018
Blue Line AG-DMS Washermanpet 10 February 2019
Blue Line Washermanpet Thiruvottriyur 14 February 2021

Administration and maintenance[edit]

The Chennai metro has a depot at Koyambedu with ballast-less tracks of 15 kilometres (9.3 mi). It covers an area of 26 ha (64 acres) and houses 36 trains.[91] The depot houses maintenance workshops, stabling lines, a test track and a washing plant for the trains.[92] It also houses the Operational Control Centre (OCC) where the movement of trains and real-time CCTV footages obtained from the stations and on-board cameras is monitored.[93] The company plans to build a headquarters building near the facility.[94]

To prevent corrosion of train surfaces due to bird droppings, the depot has been fitted with ultrasonic bird repellers and bird strobe lights to prevent birds from entering the depot.[91]

In 2018, CMRL began constructing an elevated depot at Wimco Nagar at a cost of 2,300 million to maintain and park trains running between Washermanpet and Wimco Nagar. The elevated depot covers an area of 3.5 ha, with provision to station 12 trains. Other facilities in the depot include three inspections lines, one emergency repair line, and a small plant for washing trains. There are also plans to build a multi-storey commercial building above the depot.[95]


Rolling Stock[edit]

For Phase I, Alstom was awarded the contract to supply 168 coaches to Chennai Metro at a cost of 1,470 crore (US$210 million) in 2010.[96] Alstom supplied 42 train-sets (metropolis model) composed of four coaches each[97] with each car measuring 22.5 metres (74 ft) in length and can accommodate 319 passengers.[98] The trains have a first-class compartment and a women's section with 14 seats in the first-class car and 44 seats in the normal car. The first nine trains were imported from Brazil and the remaining were manufactured at a new facility set up at Sri City, Tada about 75 kilometres (47 mi) from Chennai.[99][100] As a part of phase 1 extension Alstom further supplied 10 trains with 4 coaches each making a total of 52 coaches operating in phase 1 and its extension.The trains are air-conditioned with electrically operated automatic sliding doors and a regenerative braking system. The cars operate on 25 KV AC through an overhead catenary system with a maximum speed of 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph).[101]


The trains are connected to the grid via overhead electric cables and are equipped with regenerative braking with a capacity to recover 30–35% of the energy during braking.[102] The metro will require an average of 70 MW of power daily and the electricity will be supplied by Tamil Nadu Electricity Board.[103] Chennai Metro is also planning to use solar power for five of its stations on the elevated corridor, with a production capacity of 200 KW.[104]


A total of 32 stations have been constructed along the two lines of the first phase with 20 underground stations. In the underground sections, a walkway runs along the length with cross passages every 250 metres (820 ft) for the maintenance and emergency evacuation.[105] The underground stations have an average width of 220 metres (720 ft) to 390 metres (1,280 ft) and go up to 50 feet (15 m) deep from the ground level.[106] However, the length of the stations, both underground and elevated, in Phase 1 extension is only 180 metres (590 ft) to save space.[57][107] The elevated stations have three levels, namely, street, concourse and platform with the concourse level at an average height of 5.65 metres (18.5 ft) and platforms for boarding at 12.6 metres (41 ft) above the street level.[108] Underground stations have two levels and are air-conditioned. The metro stations are equipped to be disabled and elderly friendly, with automatic fare collection system, announcement system, electronic display boards, escalators and lifts. The stations are equipped with non-slippery flooring with grip-rails, audio announcements and Braille facilities to help visually challenged passengers.[109] Paid parking facilities are available for two wheelers at all but three stations and in select stations for four wheelers.[110] parking charges can be paid for through the stored value cards.



A graphical representation of the different public transit railway lines in Chennai (including the Chennai Suburban Railway and the Chennai Metro) and their intersections.
A graphical representation of the different public transit railway lines in Chennai (including the Chennai Suburban Railway and the Chennai Metro) and their intersections.

The metro system will provide connections with various other transportation modes in the city.[111][112][113]

As of November 2019, the CMRL has plans to build a 15-km light rail between Tambaram and Velachery connecting with the Chennai MRTS at the Velachery station. Unlike the Metro, the Light Rails can take sharp turns and travel through dense and narrow stretches.[114]

Accidents & Incidents[edit]

In August 2012, a construction worker was killed and six others were seriously injured due to a crane boom failure near Pachaiyappa's College.[115] On 10 January 2013, a 22-year-old construction worker was killed and three others were injured at a Metro Rail site on Railway Station Road between Alandur and St Thomas Mount.[115] On 11 January 2014, a crane toppled over, killing a 20-year-old construction worker and seriously injuring one other worker. The accident took place at 6:45 am at the construction site of the Saidapet station.[116] On 17 June 2015, a 30-year-old Software Engineer L Giridharan was killed on the spot when an iron rod fell on him at an under construction Metro Rail station near Officers Training Academy at St Thomas Mount around 9 am. The iron rod also hit a motorcyclist, who escaped with minor injuries.[117]


Chennai metro is the second most expensive in terms of ticket cost per kilometer in the country after Mumbai.[118] In 2019, the Madras High Court questioned the state government on the scientific method it adopted in constructing the tunnels without disturbing the water bodies in the city.[119]

Network Map[edit]

See also[edit]


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