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Among captains of India's first Monorail is also a proud Muslim
Sunday February 2, 2014 5:45 PM, & Agencies

Celebrations and joy mark all over Mumbai as India's first Monorail opened for public on Sunday. But for Fareed Alam Shaikh, the moment brought double delight as he had the privilege of running the country's latest "crown" after chief minister Prithviraj Chavan officially flagged it off on Saturday.

Fareed Alam with Pooja Keni
[Monorail captains Pooja Keni and Fareed Alam at Wadala depot in Mumbai on Saturday. Photo Courtesy: The Hindu/Vivek Bendre]

22-year-old Fareed Alam, who completed his diploma in electronic engineering last year, is among the group of first few monorail captains was on Saturday given the responsibility of being the "observer" in the driver's cabin while his friend Ashish Patahk sat behind the wheels.

"A year ago, I had not imagined that I would get such an opportunity. I was always fascinated by the train network in Mumbai — it carries so many people to different places," The Hindu quoted a delighted Fareed Alam as saying.

"Driving the Monorail gives me a high. When you manage to manoeuvre the twists and turns on the tracks, it feels wonderful. During our training sessions, the best part was people standing and waving out to us, cheering us to go ahead", he added.

There are 43 train captains who make up the first batch in India. Over the last year, they underwent theory training for two months and drove the train for 100 hours. These people now know how the Monorail works and what needs to be done in case of an emergency.

Along with Fareed Alam Shaikh there are few other Muslims who are part of the county's mega project. They include Mohammad Shakir and Irfan Sinde who have been appointed as Station Masters.

"This is a very important and proud moment for all of us, a moment for which we waited for years", Mohammad Shakir said while talking to

Shakir was hired by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) eight months back. As Station Master, he will be monitoring every movement of the passengers from his office with the help of cameras.

Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) joint director D. Kawathkar said that on its 8.9 km route, the Monorail will halt at seven stations: Wadala, Bhakti Park, Mysore Colony, BPCL, Fertiliser Township, VNP-RC Marg Junction and Chembur.

These are some of the thickly-populated areas which are not adequately serviced by the regular Western Railway, Central Railway and its Harbour Line. The aerial Monorail, running at speeds between 31 and 80 kmph, will be a boon and help de-congest the roads below.

With the first phase already the cynosure of the city eyes, MMRDA is hurrying to complete the second phase that will connect Wadala to Sant Gadge Maharaj Chowk.

Thus, it will offer 19.17 km of southeast connectivity between Sant Gadge Maharaj Chowk-Chembur, with 17 stations en route - and catapult it on the the second longest corridor on the world Monorail map.

The longest is Japan's Osaka Monorail corridor at 23.8 km and the present second is the Tokyo Monorail at 16.9 km.

The Mumbai Monorail was constructed for around Rs.3,000 crore, against the Osaka Monorail which cost Rs.12,690 crore.

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