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Home truths after the euphoria

Howrah Maidan-Esplanade section braces for Monday rush to test load capacity

Debraj Mitra | Published 17.03.24, 06:14 AM
Howrah Maidan-Esplanade section braces for Monday rush to test load capacity

Howrah Maidan-Esplanade section braces for Monday rush to test load capacity

On the first two days of commercial runs, East-West Metro’s Howrah Maidan-Esplanade section has been a fun ride for many passengers.

But after a Sunday recess, when the services resume on the first working day of the week, how the carrier handles the humongous Howrah rush remains to be seen.


The early warning signs are already there. On Friday evening, the platform at Mahakaran station became so crowded that the ticket counters had to be shut for a while.

Clips doing the rounds of social media showed passengers being pushed inside overcrowded trains so the doors could close.

“The Howrah Maidan-Esplanade section on the Green Line saw 70,204 passengers on Friday,” said Kausik Mitra, the Metro spokesperson.

Howrah Maidan was the busiest with 23,444 passengers.

“Since it was the first day, many people came to experience the historic ride. That is why Howrah Maidan saw most passengers. From Monday, Howrah is likely to be the busiest,” said another Metro official.

Even on Saturday afternoon, long queues were spotted at multiple stations.

Howrah rush

Local trains carry over six lakh people to and from Howrah station every day, said a railway official of the Howrah division. A significant section of this number is expected to use the Metro to reach Kolkata across the river.

“Thirty per cent” of the passengers, the official said, travel in the peak hours — between 8am and 10am and between 5.30pm and 7.30pm. That means around 1.8 lakh passengers take local trains in these two slots. That, in turn, boils down to 45,000 passengers every hour.

The gap between two East-West trains is 12 minutes and 15 minutes depending on the hour of the day. Trains run at gaps of 15 minutes between 7am-9am; 11am-5pm and 8pm-9.45pm. Trains run at intervals of 12 minutes between 9am-11am and 5pm-8pm.

The peak-hour slots of local and Metro trains are not identical in the morning. Even if the 9am-10am slot matches, tens of thousands of local train passengers are expected to take the Metro.

A 12-minute gap means five trains in an hour. A six-coach East-West Metro rake is built to carry around 2,060 passengers. That means around 10,300 passengers can avail of the Metro in an hour from Howrah to Kolkata.

“What happens on Monday remains to be seen. But going by what we saw on Friday and Saturday, there is a possibility that the number of Metro trains will be inadequate for the number of passengers,” said a Metro official who requested anonymity.

Long wait, few people

Around 1pm on Saturday, the ticket counters at Howrah station were teeming with people. Howrah Maidan also had long queues.

Police from the Howrah commissionerate were seen assisting RPF personnel in managing the queues.

“I have been waiting for nearly 20 minutes to get a ticket. Metro is about modern technology. Such a long waiting time is going backward,” Dibakar Mondal told this newspaper at Howrah Metro station.

The station has provision for 32 ticket counters. But less than 10 were operational when this newspaper visited the station. This was the trend at the remaining stations as well. Only some of the ticket counters were operational.

“We have to make do with the resources we have. We have outsourced crowd management and security to some agencies to help the RPF and the police. But some operations can only be done by Metro personnel,” said a senior Metro official.

Around 65 security guards from one such agency have been deployed across the four stations, said Metro sources.

Signage blues

Esplanade is the interface between two corridors — north-south (Blue line) and East-West (Green line). A walkway connecting the two stations is opposite Gate 4 of the older Esplanade station.

But lack of signage at the Esplanade station of the Blue line is hurting passengers headed to the Green line. On Saturday, this newspaper saw at least a dozen passengers get down at Esplanade (of Blue line) and walk to the wrong end.

A Metro official was waiting near Gate 7, at the other end.

The only signage mentioning East-West or Green line can be seen at the concourse levels of the Esplanade station of Blue Line.

“There should have been a board or some other marker on the platform itself. Then, I would not have had to walk in vain,” said Dola Kar, who was headed from Netaji Bhavan to Howrah.

The lack of signage for exit points at Mahakaran and the interface between local trains and Metro trains at Howrah also irked some passengers.

Metro general manager P. Uday Kumar Reddy said: “There are some teething issues that happen during the start of any big project. With time, they will be sorted out.”

Last updated on 17.03.24, 06:14 AM

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