Chennai: A young woman was behind the wheel today when the Chennai Metro rolled out for the first time on a signal from Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa.
At around 12.15 pm, the Chief Minister, who was connected through video conference from her office, pressed a button and on cue, 28-year-old Preethi drove the train out of the Alandur station. A year and a half of training has built up to this moment.
"I feel happy and proud," Preethi told NDTV, informing that she drives at a speed of 80 km and drives "safe."
It is her mother who feels like flying. "I really do. Earlier we thought it was too dangerous as she has to take care of more than 300 passengers. Now I am proud. She is trained," Preethi's mother A Shanthi said.
Preethi, who has a diploma in engineering, quit her first job and applied to the Chennai Metro. "She was the first woman to get selected," said her father.
From the Alandur metro station, Preethi drove the train to Koyambedu, covering the 10 km stretch in 18 minutes.
Officials said with four coaches, the train will have a capacity of 1,276 passengers.
The first phase was launched today; the two corridors in this phase will cover a 45-km stretch. The corridors will be partly underground and partly elevated, and cost Rs 16,500 crore.
The second corridor is likely to be ready by the end of this year.
Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu had said earlier that the Centre has approved a nine-km extension of phase 1 to include Thiruvottiyur from Washermenpet. However, it was not included.
The launch, initially planned for October last year was plagued by delays. The Metro Rail Project plan was approved under the previous DMK regime.
"I wanted to board the first metro train, I hope metro makes travel easier and a pleasure," said K Ramesh a young executive.