Meeting or movie, dinner or duty — commuters in Calcutta may be blessed with a late-night lifeline if the railway ministry goes ahead with its plan of extending Metro services till 11pm.
Junior railway minister Adhir Chowdhury revealed the plan at a programme on Wednesday. “We have started thinking about running Metro services in Calcutta till 11pm. In Delhi, Metro runs till midnight,” Chowdhury said at a programme at Howrah station to flag off four EMUs and one long-distance train of South Eastern Railway.
“Calcutta is a metropolitan city and so it must have Metro services till late night…. However, we are not making any formal announcement now. Everything is at a discussion level,” the minister said.
At present, the last Metro trains leave the two terminal stations — Dum Dum and New Garia (Kavi Subhash) — at 9.45pm and complete the journey by 10.30 pm.
Metro officials said a decision would be taken within a week.
“The minister has asked us to look into the arrangements required to extend services till 11pm. We’ll start conducting a detailed study in a day or two. We are thinking of running at least two additional trains,” a senior Metro official said.
The Metro fleet has enough rakes and drivers for the extended operation but not administrative and operational personnel, the official said. “We have to start a new shift if services are extended. We don’t have enough administrative and operational manpower for that,” he said.
Metro employees at present work on two eight-hour shifts from 6.15am to 10.45pm. Trains run at a frequency of 15, 10, 8, 6 or 5 minutes.
The extended timings would be a boon for commuters as buses have been going off the road from 9pm because of the state government’s refusal to increase fares despite fuel price rise.
“My work gets over around 10.30pm and I often have to wait for more than half an hour for a bus. Taking a Metro would be so much more convenient,” said Niladri Basu, a resident of Kudghat who works at a restaurant in Bhowanipore.