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Thursday , October 21 , 2010
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Comfort zone to fear factor

Mouparna Gupta, an advertising professional, could not take the Metro on Wednesday. “The voice on the public address system said that a train had been derailed and so services had been suspended. My first reaction was fear. What if I had been on that train?” the young mother later told Metro.

“With a one-year-old back home waiting, I used to feel safest travelling by Metro. Not anymore. The trains are invariably late and overcrowded. Every day there is some snag. Today, I board the Metro with my fingers crossed. Tomorrow, I may be too scared to take the Metro at all,” she added.

Mouparna mirrored the mood of Metro commuters across Calcutta. “I am scared,” said Mansi Sharma, 27, a private bank employee.

The Lenin Sarani resident travels between Esplanade and Jatin Das Park twice a day. “It is still cheap and saves time. But it is no longer comfortable or safe,” she added.

Ever since the extension beyond Tollygunge — till Garia from August 22, 2009, and now till New Garia from October 7 this year — it’s all gone horribly wrong, slowly but steadily.

Things have come to such a pass that Garia resident Sudipto Saharoy promised his 11-year-old daughter Sayantani on Wednesday that he would not take the Metro for at least a month. “The TV footage made her panic. She made frantic calls to my office and insisted that I avoid the Metro. She was so adamant that I had to promise,” said the 47-year-old state government employee, a Metro commuter from Garia.

The 17 non-AC rakes — most of them aged and ailing — and two new AC rakes — with tech glitches galore — are proving inadequate for the overcrowded and snag-hit service that is the lifeline for 5.5 to 6 lakh commuters everyday. The plan to replace old rakes with new, AC ones has also hit a slowdown.

“The trains are overcrowded to the point of being claustrophobic and timings have gone haywire. After what happened on Wednesday, it’s also a threat to limb and life,” said Samrat Dutta, who will avoid the Metro till “steps are taken”.

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