Calcutta's first integrated railway terminal, in Majherhat, will be supported by an extensive transport network spanning the city, its suburbs and the adjoining Howrah district, officials have disclosed.
The terminal, to be built by South Eastern Railway (SER), will be accessible through a host of road and railway links, which will include a 300-m-long, single-span rail bridge and a road above it over the Hooghly.
The bridge will link Majherhat with Howrah's Sankrail, around 25 km away. Once the terminal is commissioned, a number of trains from the west and south of the country will be diverted to Majherhat from Sankrail, 17 km from Howrah station.
'A mere terminal will not be viable. We have to consider this as an integrated project and ensure smooth movement of passengers in all respects,' said V.K. Raina, SER general manager.
The single-span bridge, to be set up at a cost of Rs 400 crore, will be the largest of its kind in the country. 'It will be more than 60 metres high to keep vessel movement unhindered,' Raina added. The road will run 20 metres above it.
The railway authorities have also proposed an upper-tier road on the same alignment to connect south Calcutta with the Dhulagarh truck terminal. The link will facilitate freight movement to and from the heart of the city.
The estimated cost of the Majherhat project ' construction of the terminal building and the bridge and the laying of the tracks ' is around Rs 2,000 crore, of which the railways have agreed to spend Rs 1,100 crore. If things go as planned, work will start in 2008-09.
Early last week, transport minister Subhas Chakraborty had discussed the issue of infrastructure with general manager Raina. 'The state government's expenses will come to nearly Rs 900 crore, for setting up the road network and logistic support. We have started a survey and will approach the Planning Commission for funds,' Chakraborty said.
'The project will be of immense help to Calcutta and our government will render all possible help to it,' the minister reiterated.
The terminal is likely to be commissioned with three platforms, having the capacity to handle six trains at a time.
'It will be a state-of-the-art station with all modern facilities, such as escalators, pedestrian subways, food court and shopping complex,' Raina said. 'After getting off the train, passengers will have to walk just a few yards for transport.'
The railway also plans to expand Shalimar station and convert it into a full-fledged terminal. 'Majherhat is a huge project and will take several years, but Shalimar can be commissioned shortly,' the general manager pointed out.
The SER authorities have also proposed to the state government to lay a road between Shalimar station and Kona Expressway. The station has one platform and plans are on to build two more, using the adjacent goods yard.