The 5km stretch of East-West Metro between Salt Lake Sector V and Salt Lake stadium is set to be commissioned next month, 35 years after the country’s first Metro network had come up in Kolkata. Commuters are now looking forward to a new experience of world class rapid transit service with the upcoming Metro stations having platform screen gates, automatic control rooms, Swiss stations clocks, LED, LCD display boards and advanced ticket collection gates.
The 1971 master plan, which also envisaged other Metro links, showed Kolkata as one of the best connected cities across the country. With work for these links finally gathering pace, the commuters may brace for traffic snarls because of the construction of stations.
The city is now nearing the home stretch of construction on some Metro routes. All agencies concerned should strive to start operations on as many stretches as soon as possible, even if that means piecemeal inaugurations. Kolkata has been waiting patiently for this essential addition to its transport network — in some cases, for around a decade — and this patience may be wearing a little thin now.
“Come September, as part of the first phase, the 5km overhead line will be extended by another 1km underground to Phoolbagan,” Manas Sarkar, MD, Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC), the implementing agency of the Rs 8,875-crore East-West Metro that suffered a 100% jump in costs due to land hurdles, relocation of slums and route realignment. The 16km route is the country’s first Metro project with a part of its length under water. It will connect two of the city’s busiest railway stations — Sealdah and Howrah.
The last leg of the Esplanade-Sealdah underground tunnel work is on, while the underground Phoolbagan station is getting finishing touches with platform screen doors being synchronized.
Works for five other underground stations are also progressing as the KMRC plans to complete the second phase by 2021. The second phase covers the entire 16km corridor connecting Salt Lake in the east and Howrah in the west.
There is some good news on the north-south front, too. Another 4km will be added to the city’s 27km Metro network in February, next year, with the inauguration of the Noapara-Dakshineswar line, shortest of the Metro projects. This link is supposed to ease the load on the suburban railway and road networks touching BT Road. Besides, it will also serve as the launching pad to connect Line 1 with another important suburb, Barrackpore. According to transport department statistics, road space in the core area has dropped to 4% as compared to the global average of 30%.
Solar-powered station buildings of Dakshineswar (terminal) and Baranagar are being constructed on a war-footing. The architecture of Dakshineswar station will reflect the ethos of the place that was the seat of the 19th century seer, Sri Ramakrishna’s spiritual movement.
Next comes the longest city corridor (32km of broad guage line) linking New Garia with the existing north-south terminal station, Kavi Subhas as well as with Airport in the north. It cuts through EM Bypass and New Town Expressway.
The project, announced during the chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s tenure as Union railway minister in 2010, was pegged at Rs 3,951 crore. But now, beleaguered with time and cost overruns, it’s being built at stretches that are free from land logjams.
The truncated 5km New Garia-Ruby section is likely to be commissioned in 2021. Land issues for this section will be sorted out and Jyotirindranath Nandi station, opposite to Metro Cash and Carry, is almost complete.
The work on Joka-Esplanade link has been causing traffic snarls in Behala for several years. The project lost momentum after the collapse of Majerhat bridge. A truncated service between Joka and Majerhat is scheduled to start in 2021.
The construction of Joka depot has started recently and over 90% of 24.5 hectares land has been acquired.
Source: Times of India