A train ride under the Hooghly will be a reality by the end of 2020, the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation promised today.
Work on the East-West Metro project began in February 2010 and the initial deadline was October 2014, but several targets were fixed and missed after that as the project faced repeated hurdles.
“Full commercial operations from Sector V to Howrah Maidan will begin from December 2020. The first phase – from Sector V to Sealdah – will be operational from June 2018,” said Satish Kumar, the managing director of the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC), the implementing agency of the project.
The 5.8km stretch between Sector V and Salt Lake stadium is an elevated corridor while that between Salt Lake stadium and Howrah Maidan (11km) runs underground.
The 16.8km East-West Metro route includes a 520m underwater stretch. Once in operation, the East-West Metro will take commuters to Howrah Maidan from Sector V in just 28 minutes, a distance that now takes almost thrice the time during rush hours.
Perhaps for the first time since the beginning of its journey, the project does not have any obstacles in its way. From now on, it is only engineering expertise that will take it forward.
Work was first delayed when settlers at Duttabad in Salt Lake held it up on a 365-metre overhead stretch. Work resumed after the government relocated them. Next up was the state government’s reluctance to acquire land in Bowbazar in the face of opposition from businessmen. The route was changed, adding nearly 2km to the journey, but the new alignment fell within a 100metre radius of three heritage structures – Beth El Synagogue, Maghen David Synagogue and Currency Building – in BBD Bag. The Archaeological Survey of India, the custodian of the monuments, has now granted permission for the work to go ahead.
The first phase of the project will cover a distance of about 7km that will take a train about 14 minutes to cover. “The trains will run at a speed of 80km/hr. There will be 17 rakes of six coaches each. Trains will run at an interval of two-and-a-half minutes that can be brought down to one-and-a-half minutes,” said A.K. Kundu, one of the directors of KMRC.
Trains on the existing north-south Metro route (between Noapara and Kavi Subhash) run at a speed of 55km/hr.
Senior officials said the East-West Metro coaches and all 12 stations will be disabled-friendly. There will be escalators and lifts at all stations. The platforms will have tactile tiles to alert visually challenged passengers. Kumar said each of the stations will have toilets but not on the platform.