On board East-West Metro, driver Dipak Kumar deftly pushes the start button on the control panel and the automated management system, which is controlling the train from the Central Park depot 2km away, takes over. The sleek, stainless steel BEML-make gently pulls out of Sector V station at 30kmph. A curvaceous viaduct in front of the Wipro crossing wouldn’t allow the six-coach car take its full 80kmph run. Grazing past the white, perforated sound barrier at DL block, the train is galloping towards the HSBC building.
The air-conditioning inside the coach seems pleasant. Everything in the East-West Metro coach — from the AC to opening and closing of doors, broadcast announcements and digital displays to the CCTV inside the driver’s cabin integrated with real-time surveillance in the stations — is controlled by the communication-based train control (CBTC) system. The rakes can later be upgraded to driverless trains. When East-West Metro’s 16km corridor is complete, it will attain this driverless status.
For now, it’s just a 5km truncated run in Salt Lake and a small stretch of EM Bypass. The first stop is Karunamoyee station. The doors, perfectly synchronized with the platform screen gates (PSGs) open smoothly. No one walks in. But the passenger address system (PAS) warns: ‘Please mind the gap’, echoing the famous phrase that was first introduced in the London Underground. Like in London, the floor of the platforms illustrates a visual warning as well, in warm red-yellow letters. The idea is to caution the commuter while crossing the gap between the train door and the station platform.
The waiting time per station is 20 seconds, precisely. The PAS announces that we are leaving Karunamoyee and heading towards Central Park. The LED display board flashes the same message. The PSGs and the doors are shut by then. In no time, the train reaches Central Park station, which is the most attractive among the six East-West Metro stations. The train chugs past a huge terracotta mural, spread across 40m, themed on the evolution of the different modes of transport in Kolkata. Apart from being eminently decorated, Central Park is special because it’s the only single-floor East-West station where the concourse and the platform are on the same level. There are, in fact, three platforms here. The third is for the trains to enter from the depot, which is housed inside Salt Lake’s Central Park.
The train then reaches City Centre, the smallest station, and starts zipping towards Bengal Chemical station, the fifth stop. The train slows considerably to negotiate another sharp turn at the Salt Lake-EM Bypass intersection, picking up speed as it moves past Apollo hospital and Mani Square. The dome of Salt Lake stadium surfaces the skyline on the left. It takes 13 minutes to reach the terminal Salt Lake Stadium station. As the train stops, the driver on the other end of the train takes charge for a ride back to Sector V.
Commuters will be able to experience the ride on February 14, a day after railway minister Piyush Goyal unveils the section. After flagging off the first train, he would commute till City Centre station with VIPs and the media. Commercial services will start at 8am the next day.
Source: Times of India