Railway minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday announced that the city’s Circular Railway would be extended up to Majerhat by December 2004. Laying the foundation stone of the upgraded Burrabazar station, the second oneto be beautified after Bagbazar, Kumar said a similar makeover awaited all Circular Railway stations on the banks of the Hooghly (Picture on Page 19).
Trinamul Congress member of Parliament Sudip Bandopadhyay had already taken the initiative of beautifying the riverfront, Kumar pointed out.
“Bandopadhyay approached me when I was drawing up the railway budget for 2003-2004 and asked me if something could be done for Calcutta. I knew Advaniji (deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani) was also helping beautify Calcutta. I thought it would be a fitting gesture,” Kumar said.
The rail link between Dum Dum Cantonment station and Calcutta airport will be completed by December next year and the Metro Railway extension up to Garia by 2007, the minister announced. Also, the Digha-Tamluk rail link will start operating up to Contai in November.
On a request from Bandopadhyay, Kumar announced that a computerised rail ticket booking counter in Burrabazar would be set up within a month.
Six stations along the 7.5-km stretch of the Circular Railway by the Hooghly will be beautified and amenities improved at a cost of Rs 8 crore. The project will be ready by March 2005. Officials said apart from Burrabazar, makeovers are ahead for Bagbazar, Sovabazar, Ahiritola, BBD Bag, Eden Gardens and Prinsep Ghat stations. Railway tracks and drainage systems will be upgraded and level-crossing gates are part of the project.
Stone panels from Kota and tiles will beautify the platform walls and floors. The platform sheds and overbridges will be renovated and extended. Benches will be placed on platforms and the station building will get a coat of paint. Drinking water fountains will be installed.
Gardens and fountains will be set up at the stations, which will be well-lit. There will be a provision for a state-of-the-art electronic train indication board.
Concerned over a spurt in train mishaps, Kumar said the government was taking appropriate steps to check the accident rate. However, accident rates in India, measured per million train kilometre, he said, were low, compared with other countries.