Calcutta is poised to travel light — literally — as part of a modified version of the rapid-transit rail network promised in Mamata Banerjee’s budget.
The city’s first Light Rail Transit (LRT) system will connect Majherhat, Joka, Budge Budge, Garden Reach and Diamond Harbour in the south —a circular stretch of around 80km — to the Metro and suburban railway networks.
The original plan was to expand the Metro Railway network but a preliminary feasibility study indicated that an LRT system would be more suitable given the topography and availability of land. A light rail transit system generally has lower capacity than conventional trains. The rakes resemble modern trams but are much faster and quieter.
“The route survey is underway,” a Railway Board official told Metro from New Delhi.
Metro Railway, which is conducting the survey, will submit its report to the Railway Board. “We hope to complete the task in two months,” a Metro official said.
The Majherhat-Joka stretch, which is around 8km, has already been surveyed.
The 80km route (see chart) will begin at Majherhat, touch Joka and reach Diamond Harbour before taking an about-turn to Budge Budge, from where it will head towards Garden Reach and Kidderpore. The route will culminate at Rabindra Sarobar after crossing Tolly’s Nullah, where there will be a passenger interchange with Metro and the suburban railway network of Eastern Railway’s Sealdah-Budge Budge section.
According to a railway official, the LRT project will not only ease traffic congestion on Diamond Harbour Road but also curb pollution.
He said the project cost of close to Rs 3,000 crore would have been higher had the route been included in the Metro rail network. “We would have also faced problems in setting up track connections and a maintenance depot for rakes.”