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Smart-card gate at Metro station

Nearly half a dozen urban transit projects — including the Metro Rail extension up to Garia — will bring the city’s fringes closer to the hub by 2007, said Union minister of state for railways Bandaru Dattatreya on Wednesday. A combined estimated investment of Rs 120 crore will be pumped into the projects, he added.

At an interaction with commuters at the Rabindra Sadan Metro station, the Union minister said the Metro Rail authorities had taken up a scheme to introduce smart-card gates for quick dispersal of passengers.

In the first phase, 60 of the 209 gates in Metro stations between Dum Dum and Tollygunge will be converted into smart-card gates by September 2004, at a cost of Rs 4 crore.

At present, 20 passengers can disperse per minute through the automatic ticket-collecting gates. The dispersal rate will climb to 30 per minute once the new gates are installed. A feasibility study report says the maintenance cost of the smart-card gates will be about a quarter of the ticket-collecting gates.

The Metro Rail authorities have also decided to insist that the state government share the Metro expenses to cushion the increasing losses in running the urban transit system. Metro Railway presently earns Rs 40 crore a year, while its annual maintenance cost has been to the tune of Rs 90 crore.

Minister Dattatreya announced that Metro services would be extended to several stations beyond Tollygunge. The Garia extension project will materialise by 2007.

He added that the two extension projects of the Circular Railway, between Majherhat and Prinsep Ghat and from Dum Dum Cantonment to the airport, would be completed by December 2004. The Chitpur passenger terminal will be ready by 2005. The minister took a Metro ride between Rabindra Sadan and Tollygunge and also checked out EMU coaches at Sealdah station.

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