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Mahalaya debut for Metro AC rakes

Metro Railway commuters will get to enjoy an air-conditioned ride from Mahalaya.

Railway minister Mamata Banerjee on October 7 will flag off the two AC rakes brought from Perambur in Tamil Nadu in July and also inaugurate the 3km stretch from Kavi Nazrul (Gariabazar) to New Garia.

New Garia station will be named after poet Subhas Mukhopadhyay, railway sources said.

The stretch from Tollygunge to Gariabazar was opened on August 22 last year.

“The trial runs for the AC rakes have been successful and most of the glitches have been ironed out. We are planning to put the trains to commercial use from October 7,” a Railway Board official said on Sunday.

Metro officials said the addition of the two rakes to the existing fleet of 18 would not increase the number of trips. “But the new rakes will provide the much-needed support to maintain the existing frequency,” said an official.

Metro now runs 214 trips on weekdays at intervals of six, eight and 10 minutes.

Officials said the frequency of the Metro service would improve following an upgrade in the signalling system. The tender for the upgrade has been floated.

The two AC rakes were manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory in Perambur. Since they arrived in the city, Metro engineers as well as experts from the factory had been grappling with a number of glitches that surfaced during the trial runs. “Now, the trains are ready to carry passengers,” said an official.

Two more AC rakes, he added, are scheduled to roll out of the Perambur unit by December.

The Kavi Nazrul-New Garia stretch was approved along with the Tollygunge-Kavi Nazrul stretch in 2001, during Mamata’s first tenure as railway minister.

The original plan was to open the entire extended route from Tollygunge to New Garia at one go last year.

But litigation over land forced the authorities to open the extended stretch till Kavi Nazrul and fix June 31, 2010, as the deadline for inaugurating the rest.

The deadline, however, could not be met because of a shortage of rakes. An assessment by Metro states the passenger load would increase by over 1 lakh daily once trains start running the entire route spanning 25 km from Dum Dum to New Garia.

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