Railway authorities have approached the state government with plans to construct two terminals near Howrah station to lessen the burden on the railway terminus which they described as “saturated”.
The railways want a terminal for suburban trains at Shalimar and another at Padmapukur, near Mourigram, for long-distance trains.
Howrah station now handles 78 long-distance trains, including Rajdhani Express, Delhi-Kalka Mail, Poorva Express, Coromandel Express, Gitanjali Express and Jammu-Tawi Express. Thousands of passengers take the long-distance and local trains from the station daily.
General managers of Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway, S. Sengupta and V.N. Garg, met chief secretary S.N. Roy at Writers’ Buildings on Tuesday. They underlined the need for a decision on the proposed terminals by January 22, so that the projects can be included in the railway budget for the next fiscal.
Senior government officials, including transport secretary H.P. Roy, CMDA chief executive officer Prabh Das and PWD secretary Swapan Chakraborty, also attended the meeting.
The railway authorities suggested a third terminal at Santragachhi, but the proposal was shot down on the grounds that it would disturb the ecological balance of the area. Santragachhi has a number of big waterbodies, which attract migratory birds every winter.
Chakraborty said the CMDA CEO would visit both the proposed sites on Wednesday and submit a report to the government.
“A decision will then be taken on whether there will be one terminal or two,” he added. A single terminal would cost about Rs 600 crore and will take five years to construct.
A senior CMDA official, who attended the meeting, said it was the responsibility of the state government to build the required infrastructure around the proposed terminals, including roads leading to the station and bus and taxi stands.
Officials said both Howrah and Sealdah stations were overburdened and the railways were looking for new terminals. “That is why Eastern Railway had to run one of its Rajdhani Express trains from Sealdah. Besides, a new terminal, at Shalimar or Padmapukur, would take some of the passenger traffic load off Howrah Bridge and transfer it to Vidyasagar Setu, they said.