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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Green light for rail transit
- Swift, three-coach trams to ply high on three routes

The light rail transit (LRT) system has run the East-West Metro off the track.

The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government has been lobbying Delhi for months, seeking financial assistance for a host of transport infrastructure projects.

The Centre last week told the Bengal government that it would arrange foreign funds for one transport infrastructure project for Calcutta and lobbed the ball right back to Writers' Buildings.

The Union urban development ministry, in a letter to the state transport secretary Sumantra Chowdhury, asked the government to choose from its proposals ' LRT, East-West Metro, North-South Corridor, Eastern Expressway, Kalyani-Kakdwip green corridor and Cossipore-Jadavpur elevated roads.

Following discussions with finance minister Asim Dasgupta, transport minister Subhas Chakraborty and chief secretary Asok Gupta, the chief minister gave the Rs 2,400-crore LRT scheme the nod over his pet project, the East-West Metro.

Transport secretary Chowdhury submitted a revised LRT scheme to the urban development ministry on Monday.

'The Centre has informed us that it will arrange financial assistance for only one project now, and so we have opted for the LRT scheme,' chief secretary Gupta confirmed on Tuesday.

As per the revised LRT scheme, called Elevated Mass Rapid Transit System (EMRTS), prepared by the Consulting Engineering Services, high-speed trams will ply on elevated roads on three routes, all terminating at Esplanade.

The three-coach vehicles, automatic signalling system and other hi-tech materials will be brought in from Japan.

The three routes will terminate at Salt Lake, Chiria More and Joka. The tracks will be laid at a height of 11.9 metres, with a stop every kilometre. All stops will have escalators and ticket-booking counters, with entry-exit systems along the lines of Metro Railway.

The vehicles will run at a speed of 60 kph. The minimum fare has been pegged at Rs 5 (up to 5 km) and the maximum at Rs 12 (beyond 15 km).

'We have opted for the LRT project as it will take less time to implement and the state government will have to shoulder minimum financial liability,' explained the transport secretary.

The Bengal government had earlier expressed its inability to invest its share of funds to implement the Rs 6,000-crore East-West Metro project.

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