The extended western suburbs of Mumbai – the city’s most populous stretch — gets fully covered by the Metro network from January 20 onwards. Providing seamless connectivity on an entirely elevated network of 35 km of lines with 30 platforms at the cost of Rs 13,000 crore, has been presented as a solution against the congested Western Express Highway and its parallel running New Link Road. Completing the project was challenging, says SVR Srinivas, metropolitan commissioner of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the city’s planning body, as it meant carrying out major part of the works at night due to heavy traffic congestion. There were challenges in air as well — the Andheri (W) station had to be raised to 22 metres above ground to cross over the existing Metro line 1 lines beneath. This line is estimated to see a footfall of 3-4 lakhs passengers daily soon. This is the second network that is fully operational; the first Ghatkopar-Versova line is already providing much needed relief with its East-West connectivity. While the metro network huffed and chuffed in its initial stages thanks to opposition from residents and environmentalists, it has picked up much speed since then to move towards its target of achieving 337 km with 200 stations by 2030 to service 7 lakhs passengers per day.