One Metro stretch that connects Salt Lake with Howrah should be ready by the middle of next year. Another that aims to connect Salt Lake with the south-eastern and eastern parts of Kolkata should be ready by the end of next year.
“Trains will run on the full stretch of East-West Metro, between Howrah Maidan and Sector V, within the first six months of 2023,” Arun Arora, general manager of Eastern Railway and Metro Railway, said on Monday.
The East-West Metro is now operational between Sealdah and Sector V. Commercial services started from Sealdah on July 14.
Construction between Howrah Maidan and Esplanade is almost ready. But a lot of work is left in the Esplanade-Sealdah section, said a Metro official.
The first phase of the New Garia-airport corridor, another Metro route that would connect Sector V with the city, should be ready for commercial runs by September this year, said an official of Metro Railway.
The first phase connects New Garia (Kavi Subhas) and Ruby (Hemanta Mukherjee) stations. The second phase is between Ruby and Sector V and the third is between Sector V and the airport.
“The target for the second phase is 2023. By the end of next year, the construction of the second phase should be complete,” the official told The Telegraph.
The inclusion of Sealdah station in the east-west network has for the first time connected the tech hub of Salt Lake with central Kolkata. Since July 14, when commercial services started from Sealdah, the footfall on the East-West Metro has shot up substantially.
Similarly, if Sector V is connected with New Garia, it will be of great help to many commuters, said Metro officials. Those coming from southern suburbs would be able to get down at New Garia station of the suburban railway and take the Metro route. Now, they have to get down at Sealdah to board an East-West Metro train.
“The construction of the viaduct in the entire 5.4-km stretch between New Garia and Ruby is complete. We are almost done with laying tracks on the stretch. We hope to start trial runs very soon,” said a Metro engineer.
Metro sources said only two main hurdles remained on the stretch but they would not come in the way of starting commercial services.
An entry point each at Kalikapur (Kavi Sukanta) and Ruby stations is blocked by encroachments. Each station has four entry points and corresponding escalators. But because of the encroachments, Hemanta Mukherjee and Kavi Sukanta stations are likely to start operations with three entry gates.
The first phase of the project, spanning 5.4km, has five stations.
“We are trying to address the problem and the encroachments will eventually be removed but we don’t want to further delay the commissioning of this stretch,” he said.
The entire New Garia-airport corridor is 32km long. The project goes underground on VIP Road, near Haldiram's, and culminates at the airport station.
A 160-m gap in the viaduct on the New Garia-Ruby stretch, near the Avishikta intersection, had for long been a stumbling block in the project. The gap was filled recently and tracks are being laid on the stretch.
A train will be borrowed from the north-south network for the trial runs, expected to start by the end of this month or beginning of August, said officials.
“We expect a very moderate footfall once the New Garia-Ruby stretch is opened,” the official said.
The count is expected to go up once Salt Lake is added to the network. But there are multiple hurdles.
“There are discontinuities at multiple locations. There are some gaps at Chingrighata. There are land issues…. Two of our piers are stuck. We are working to address the problems,” he said.