Jayalalithaa used video conference to launch the service on an overhead stretch between Koyambedu and Alandur, covering 10.15 km, which the train would cover in 19 minutes with six stations.
By road it would take at least 45 minutes to cover the stretch if the traffic is smooth — and a couple of hours if there is congestion.
According to the Tamil Nadu government, the metro project is estimated to cost around Rs.14,600 crore.
According to officials, initially nine trains will run on the route. Each train will be able to carry 1,276 passengers. The minimum and maximum fares are Rs 10 and Rs 40.
The track will be extended from Alandur to Chennai Airport. The extension will constitute phase I of the 45 km project passing 32 stations.
Phase I consists of two corridors — Washermenpet to Airport (23.1 km) and Chennai Central to St. Thomas Mount (22 km).
The first train was steered by A. Preeti, a young woman holding an engineering diploma.
The Tamil Nadu and the central governments would contribute 15 percent of the project cost as their equity.
The central government would provide debt funding of five percent and the state government would contribute 5.78 percent as its share of debt fund.
The balance 59.22 percent of the project cost would be obtained from the Japan International Cooperation Agency as loan.