Esplanade-Sealdah East-West Metro Railway link not this year

A truncated stretch between Howrah Maidan and Esplanade is set to be operational by the end of 2023, says chief of implementing agency

Debraj Mitra Kolkata Published 07.03.23, 07:13 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File picture

Esplanade and Sealdah will not be connected by Metro this year, the chief of the implementing agency of East-West Metro said on Monday.

A truncated stretch between Howrah Maidan and Esplanade is set to be operational by the end of 2023, he said.


“We are confident of being able to run trains between Howrah Maidan and Esplanade by this year-end. The stretch between Esplanade and Sealdah has been ruled out for this year,” H.N. Jaiswal, managing director of Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC), said at a news conference.

The 16.5km east-west corridor will link Howrah Maidan and Sector V once fully operational. A truncated stretch between Sealdah and Sector V is operational now.

Trains should run the full 16.5km course between Sector V and Howrah Maidan, including a stretch under the river Hooghly, by the end of 2023, Metro Railway had said after the budget.

But on February 7, the general manager of Eastern Railway and Metro Railway, Arun Arora, said if the Esplanade-Sealdah stretch was not ready by the end of 2023, trains would run between Howrah Maidan and Esplanade.

If such a truncated service started, Metro passengers from Howrah Maidan travelling to a destination beyond Sealdah would have the option of travelling from Esplanade to Sealdah by surface transport arranged by Metro and board a train towards Sector V from Sealdah, Arora had suggested. On Monday, Jaiswal said the question of how passengers would go to Sealdah from Esplanade “will be decided later”.

Problem zone

The 2.5-km stretch between Esplanade and Sealdah, more specifically an 800m stretch in Bowbazar, continues to be a daunting challenge for engineers despite a “significant breakthrough” earlier this month.

The construction of a ventilation shaft at Raja Subodh Mullick Square has been on hold for months because the soil condition has not reached satisfactory levels despite continuous grouting, said officials.

“We are encountering a lot of troubles there. Right now, work is stopped,” said Jaiswal. Based on experts’ opinion, KMRC is “exploring ground-freezing technology” to resume work, he said.

The previous plan was to have eight cross passages — for access between tunnels — between Esplanade and Sealdah. Three of them are ready and the fourth is nearing completion. The condition of the soil has cast a cloud on the construction of the fifth.

The makers have decided to do away with the remaining three passages.

“Three cross passages towards Sealdah have been dispensed with. Instead, we will build a passenger emergency exit system in Durga Pituri Lane where the retrieval shaft is being sealed,” Jaiswal said.

Trial runs

Once the retrieval shaft is closed, rakes can be brought from Sealdah for trial runs, which are expected to start in April. The trains will be brought through the Sector V-bound tunnel, which is largely ready. Tracks are missing at some places and some support structures need to be removed before a train can use it to reach Esplanade, said KMRC engineers.

“We will place temporary tracks. Some support structures have to be removed. That work will be taken up after March 20,” said Jaiswal. “We want to start trial runs between Howrah Maidan and Esplanade in April. All the systems installed there need to be tried, tested and certified. The trials will take six to seven months.”

The construction of a concrete base slab in Bowbazar was completed a couple of days ago. The construction was stalled since an accident on May 11 last year — the second of the three since 2019 — led to water seepage and cracks in houses in the neighbourhood.

New homes

Bids have been submitted in response to a tender to rebuild homes damaged by the first subsidence in Bowbazar in 2019. “For the time being, we have considered 23 buildings. It will be re-assessed,” said a KMRC official.

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