Off to Delhi, by train' From Howrah, Sealdah… or Chitpur' After 22 platforms in Howrah station, and 15 in Sealdah, Calcuttans will have another six platforms at Chitpur railway station to choose their travel tracks from.
The new terminal in north Calcutta was announced by Union minister Nitish Kumar, on Wednesday, while presenting the railway budget. To be set up at a cost of Rs 100 crore, where the Chitpur railway yard now stands, it will only be reserved for long-distance passenger trains. Chitpur now only receives goods trains, with the three-km plot remaining largely unused. A proposal for its utilisation had been sent by the Sealdah division to the railway ministry last month.
Railway officials said the third city terminal will be set up by joining Dum Dum, Patipukur, Ultadanga Road and Chitpur stations. Divisional railway manager of Sealdah, D. Mitra, said a total of 80,000 sq metres will be developed to build the terminal, for which work is expected to begin this June. “Apart from the six platforms, we need to have a facility for the maintenance of trains that will come in. We have enough space at Chitpur to create a maintenance-and-inspection yard for the trains,” added Mitra.
There is a huge railway yard in Chitpur that is lying unused.
Railway officials said chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had “personally backed” the Chitpur terminal project, to take some of the load off Sealdah and Howrah stations.
The state government will build the necessary infrastructure around the new station, like roads and bus, minibus and taxi stands and car parks. Transport department officials said a flyover had also been planned from Chitpur to the Ultadanga government bus terminus, connecting north Calcutta with VIP Road and the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, via Ultadanga.
“We will have to lay a new road by the side of the Chitpur canal, apart from widening and strengthening the rest of the existing ones. We will discuss our plans with the railways,” said chief traffic and transportation engineer B.K. Sadhu.
The proposed terminal at Chitpur will have the capacity for 40-50 long-distance trains. “Howrah station has become really congested. The proposed terminal will help the city bring in new long-distance trains, besides helping us divert some Howrah-bound trains,” said a railway official.
Explaining the rationale behind setting up a terminal at Chitpur, railway officials said it could be easily accessed by passengers from the southern and northern parts of the city. “Moreover, the city is now expanding along the Bypass and a new township is coming up at Rajarhat,” they added.
But the cheers for Chitpur were punctuated by complaints over the Rs 600-crore project for a large-scale terminal at Shalimar and Padmapukur, both within a few kilometres of Howrah, not finding a place in the railway budget.
“We hope the mega project, which was finalised in January, will be included in next year’s budget,” observed a railway official.