The city’s Metro Railway network is set to come full circle.
According to senior railway officials, the heart of the energy-efficient urban transport project proposed by Mamata Banerjee in her third rail budget could be “a Metro circle” instead of a mixed-mode network.
Surveys have already begun for the project, meant to link the city’s north, south, east and west.
Apart from the circle created by the proposed Dum Dum-Rajarhat-Garia link, the urban rail network will have a Dum Dum-Dakshineswar-Barrackpore Metro connection. The Dum Dum-Barasat link, which was to be part of Metro Railway, could become an EMU section.
“The idea is to set up an environment-friendly, faster transport system that suits the city and its suburbs. We are discussing the modalities for a common ticket system that will benefit commuters who need to avail themselves of different modes of rail transport to reach their destinations,” said a railway official.
Surveys have been commissioned to look into all aspects of the project, primarily the availability of land. “Once the surveys are completed, the blueprint will be submitted to the Planning Commission for final approval,” a senior railway official said from Delhi.
Metro highlights the routes along with the proposed changes to the original plan.
Dum Dum-Dakshineswar-Barrackpore: Two surveys have been conducted since the project was announced. One survey suggested that the route from Dum Dum to Barrackpore should include a “spur line” between Baranagar and Dakshineswar, which officials say could inconvenience Barrackpore-bound passengers.
“Those headed for Barrackpore will need to travel nearly 5km extra (from Baranagar to Dakshineswar and back) if that plan is followed. So we have suggested a shuttle service between Baranagar and Dakshineswar in place of a spur line,” an official said.
The route from Dum Dum to Barrackpore, covering a stretch of 14km, will have elevated Metro tracks. “Tracks exist till Noapara (Metro Railway yard) . We now need to extend the line till Baranagar, from where it will take a turn towards BT Road and become an elevated stretch along the road to Barrackpore,” the official added.
The project will cost approximately Rs 1,000 crore.
Dum Dum-Barasat: Mamata mentioned it as a Metro Railway project in the budget, but surveyors are exploring the option of a suburban rail route.
“The survey suggests a common passenger interchange at Noapara between the Metro and suburban rail systems. We already have a suburban rail route till the airport (Biman Bandar station). The railway ministry will of course take the final call on this,” said an official.
The survey has also suggested that the airport link be extended till Barasat. “Converting the existing suburban track to a Metro route will entail huge expenditure,” the official pointed out.
The proposed 15km stretch will be elevated.
Dum Dum-Rajarhat-Garia: The budget proposals did not mention whether this would be a suburban rail connection or part of the Metro route.
Railway board sources said that the stretch, covering approximately 25km from Dum Dum to New Garia, would in all probability be a Metro connection. The railway ministry will soon choose which option to take.
The route is likely to have an interchange terminal near New Town for passengers to switch to and from the East-West Metro corridor.
“A person from southern or northern suburbs of the city can travel till Ramrajatala or Howrah station by changing a train from this interchange point,” an official said.
The Tollygunge-Garia Metro expansion will be flagged off on August 23.
This connection will later have interchange options with the existing suburban railway network at several places, including New Garia, Barrackpore, Sealdah, Dum Dum Junction, Baranagar and Noapara.
“Once the entire route is opened, a commuter headed from Barrackpore to anywhere in the southern suburbs can reach his or her destination without entering the city,” said an official.