Metro Railway will not wait for the completion of East-West Metro’s second phase to throw open the Sealdah station, general manager Manoj Joshi told TOI on Tuesday.
The first phase, between Salt Lake Sector V and Salt Lake Stadium, which will be thrown open for commercial services on February 13, will hopefully be extended till Phoolbagan around May. Though a date has not been fixed for extension till Sealdah, it will happen before completion of work from the Esplanade side.
“One tunnel-boring machine (TBM) is stuck underground. The other one will have to be sent to complete the tunnel between Esplanade and Sealdah. There are issues pending before Calcutta high court. Hopefully, the stretch from Howrah Maidan to Sealdah would be ready for commissioning in two years. But we will not wait that long for commissioning the Sealdah station and linking it to the stretch up to Salt Lake Sector V. Work for completion of the Sealdah station is continuing. As soon as the technical issues involving sending off the second TBM to complete the tunnelling is resolved, we plan to start operations between Salt Lake Sector V and Sealdah,” Joshi said.
Operationalization of the Sealdah station is crucial in the grand scheme of things as footfall will increase once the network is connected to a major transport hub. In fact, even before construction of the corridor had started, railway experts like D C Mitra had suggested that work be started from Sealdah towards both directions. They had suggested that truncated services be thrown open as soon as a new station was completed. This would ensure a steady flow of passengers. Phase I of the the corridor will actually not be of great help to those commuting to work from Salt Lake to central Kolkata. It would be popular among those who wish to reach EM Bypass quicker and more comfortably.
“Once the corridor gets connected to Sealdah, passenger count will go up manifold. People from Salt Lake who work in central Kolkata or even in the south or north would just need to reach Sealdah for a comfortable ride home. Even those who travel to the suburbs on work would benefit. This is why there is an urgency to complete the stretch till Sealdah. We can’t wait for two years for this connectivity to take place. Once the connectivity to Phoolbagan is completed, there will be an increase in the number of passengers and the number of services may have to be increased. Once we link Sealdah to the network, not only services, we will also have to extend the timings as many people would be leaving home early or returning late,” a Metro official added.
Source: Times of India