The entire East-West corridor, connecting Howrah and Salt Lake, will be operational by January 2023, the general manager of Metro Railway said on Thursday.
At a news conference at the Chowringhee headquarters of the carrier, Arun Arora, the general manager of Eastern Railway and Metro Railway, gave deadlines for several ongoing projects in the city.
“The entire East-West corridor will be operational by January 2023,” Arora said.
The “entire stretch” spans across 16.6km between Sector V and Howrah Maidan and goes under the Hooghly.
The earlier deadline was June 2022. “The pandemic posed several problems but we are confident of meeting the new deadline,” said Arora.
A 7km-stretch of the corridor — between Sector V and Phoolbagan — has been operational since October 2020.
A 2.3km-section, between Phoolbagan and Sealdah, will be operational by April this year, said Arora.
An inspection of the stretch by the commissioner of railway safety (CRS) took place on March 16 and 17. The clearance is expected within a fortnight, said officials.
“Trains should start running between Joka and Taratala by the end of 2022,” said Arora.
While the entire Joka-BBD Bag stretch spans 14.2km, the Joka-Taratala stretch is 8km.
Some hurdles in finishing the Joka depot will be taken care of, Arora said.
Asked if running trains on truncated routes was financially feasible because of low passenger count, Arora said: “It is important to run trains even on truncated stretches. Otherwise, left unattended, railway infrastructure might be vulnerable to theft.”
The revised deadline for the completion of the full corridor is July 2025, said a press release from the carrier.
The length of the total corridor is 32.07km.
The 5.1km stretch between Ruby (Hemanta Mukherjee) and New Garia should be operational by October 2022, said the press release. The five stations along the stretch are also getting finishing touches.
In December 2021, RVNL, the implementing agency, managed to dismantle a club that was blocking the Ruby station. “That was a big boost,” said an official.
The revised deadline of the completion of the entire project is March 2026, said the official statement.
Arora said the stretch between Noapara and Airport stations will see commercial services by July 2023. The stretch between Airport and New Barrackpore will be operational by August 2026, he added.
The Airport-Barrackpore project, commissioned in January 2011, has been dogged by problems from the start. By 2013, the impasse over land led to the contractor withdrawing its workers and machinery from the site.
“Most of the issues have been redressed and work is on,” said an official.
“But the stretch between New Barrackpore and Barasat in still marred in land-related problems,” he said.
The entire Noapara-Barasat corridor is 18.13km long.
The Metro Railway fleet is set to get close to 50 new trains over the three years, a senior official said on Thursday.
“They will arrive in phases, over the next two-three years. Twenty-four of them will come from ICF (Integral Coach Factory), 13 from Dalian (in China) and eight from CRRC (the holding company of CNR Dalian),” he said.
The trains will be used for all the operational corridors, said officials.
The first rake, a prototype, from Dalian had arrived in Kolkata in March 2019, breaking the monopoly of the Integral Coach Factory, the sole supplier to Kolkata Metro. The train has yet to start commercial runs.
The train was awaiting clearance from the Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO). A team from China was supposed to have come to Kolkata for some pending modifications sought by the RDSO. But the pandemic delayed the entire process.