When a south Calcutta resident stepped into Kalighat Metro station a little after 11.30am on Monday, the electronic display board showed that a Dum Dum-bound train was due for arrival in three minutes. The train did not arrive even after eight minutes and the marketing executive was forced to book an app cab to reach a client's office on Ganesh Chandra Avenue in time for a meeting.
Aug. 9: Metro commuters over the past weekend have had to grapple with trains running late, especially at peak office hours, because of curtailed power supply to the third rail.
A substation near Rabindra Sadan Metro station, where a fire broke out on July 25, is unable to supply power. "The substation is still undergoing repair and unable to supply power to the third rail," said Indrani Banerjee, the Metro spokesperson.
The substations at Jatin Das Park and Park Street are making up for the affected unit. But the curtailed power supply has led to trains moving slower between Jatin Das Park and Park Street. The trains are running between these stations at 40kmph, down from the usual 55kmph. This has created a ripple effect on the entire schedule.
A Metro train usually takes 49 minutes to complete a trip between Kavi Subhash and Dum Dum. But since July 26, trains have been taking 54 minutes for the same trip. Each train undertakes eight trips in a day and five minutes lost on each trip means 40 minutes lost in a day.
The delays are hurting commuters the most during the morning rush hour, when the interval between two trains is five minutes.
Banerjee said the authorities were trying their best to tackle the problem.
"Despite the shortage in power supply, we have not cancelled any train. We are running the usual quota of 300 trains every day. The last train is leaving Dum Dum at 10.15pm instead of 9.55pm. Our staff are working overtime," she said.
The substation that caught fire is one of the 17 traction substations that feed power to the third rail. There are also seven non-traction substations that account for all other electricity needs at stations, said a senior engineer. All these units receive power from the CESC.
"A traction substation feeds anything between 8,000 and 10,000 units to the third rail on a daily basis. In the absence of supply from the unit near Rabindra Sadan, the traction substations at JD Park and Park Street are overburdened. The reduced power supply is affecting the speed of the trains," said the engineer.
Officials said the problem at the substation should be fixed by August 15.