(Eds: Updates with more quotes, fresh info) Noida (UP), Jan 25 (PTI) The much-awaited metro rail linking the twin-cities of Noida and Greater Noida in Gautam Buddh Nagar was inaugurated on Friday by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

The rail corridor, also known as the Aqua Line, would run between Sector 71 station in Noida and the Depot Station in Greater Noida.

There are a total of 21 stations on the corridor – 15 of them in Noida and six in Greater Noida — spread over a distance of 29.7 km.

“Today we dedicate the Noida Greater Noida metro rail to the people of the region. The Aqua Line, which has been completed in record time, will provide better connectivity to the region and prove to a milestone in development of the region,” Adityanath said.

Senior officials of the Noida Metro Rail Corporation (NMRC) said that with its inauguration, the rail service would begin for citizens on Saturday while regular rides from 6 am to 10 pm would begin Monday onwards.

“On Saturday rail services would begin at 10 am and continue till 5 pm, on Sunday the timings will be from 8 am to 10 pm. Monday onwards the regular rides will commence from 6 am to 10 pm at an interval of 15 minutes each,” NMRC Chairman Alok Tandon said.

Union ministers Hardeep Singh Puri, Mahesh Sharma, UP Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma, Cabinet minister Satish Kahana were present at the inauguration ceremony with senior officials of the Noida Authority, Greater Noida Authority and the Yamuna Expressway Authority. Noida MLA Pankaj Singh, Greater Noida MLA Dhirendra Singh, and Dadri MLA Tejpal Singh Nagar were also present along with Gautam Buddh Nagar District Magistrate B N Singh.

Adityanath, who took the inaugural ride from Sector 137 metro station to the Depot Station, said the Aqua Line would prove to be effective in making the region the “growth engine” of the state and the country.

He also lauded the local agencies for completing the project in record time, as he took a jibe at the previous governments in the state as well as at the Centre for delayed projects.

“The most significant point, this metro project had got the Centre’s approval in June 2017, and today in January 2019 we are inaugurating it.

“I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Urban Development Minister Hardeep Puri for their support. This project’s completion in record time proves the efficiency of local authorities as well as highlights the potential of Uttar Pradesh to become the growth engine of the country,” he said.

The chief minister said the metro rail network in Ghaziabad would be soon expanded, while revised detailed project reports (DPRs) for metro rail in Agra, Meerut and Kanpur have been sent to the central government.

“It is essential to provide basic facilities to the people which is the responsibility of any government. Nobody goes to the life of crime just like that… We are working to provide ample opportunities, civic amenities and jobs to the people and address problems of the farmers,” he said.

He also alluded to the district being infamous for crime till a couple of years ago, and said things have changed for better and global firms have expressed interest to invest in Noida and Greater Noida.

“We need to provide a better environment for investments to come in,” he said, adding the metro rail would ensure connectivity to the hitherto isolated region.

The final and mandatory safety inspection of the corridor was done in December 2018 by the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety (CMRS) which gave its approval to the NMRC for launching commercial operations.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), which operates the Delhi Metro, will assist the NMRC over the next one year in operating the Aqua Line.

The Aqua line, which will have 19 rakes with four cars each, will halt on the Sector 76, 101, 81, NSEZ, Noida Sector 83, 137, 142, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, and Greater Noida’s Knowledge Park II, Pari Chowk, Alpha 1, Delta 1, GNIDA Office and Depot metro stations. However, a major concern among the people has been that the interchange stations of the DMRC-operated Blue Line and the NMRC’s Aqua Line are not seamless.

Commuters will have to get down at the Sector 52 metro station of the Blue Line, which will further get extended to the Noida Electronic City station, and reach the Noida Sector 51 station of the Aqua Line, covering a stretch of around 300 metres.

Earlier, the NMRC had said a skywalk or a foot-over bridge to directly link the two stations was under consideration but there have been no talks about it lately.

The NMRC had in December 2018 announced fares for the Aqua Line, with the minimum being Rs 9 and the maximum Rs 50. Commuters can buy QR-coded paper tickets or use the smart cards to get 10 per cent discount on fares, the officials said.

The 49th battalion of the UP PAC has been entrusted with the responsibility of security on the Aqua Line, while some private security personnel will also be deployed.

“The security personnel are being trained by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which guards the Delhi Metro,” the NMRC had said.

The trains are designed to run at a maximum speed of 80 kmph, clocking an average speed of 37.5 kmph. Seat reservation through different colours has been done in the coaches for ladies, senior citizens and differently-abled persons.

A dedicated space has been provided for wheelchair in driving trailer cars at both the ends of the trains, according to officials.

The Aqua Line, whose construction started in May 2015 and was completed in record time, was initially expected to be opened for public in November and then December in 2018.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.