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By NEW LOOK Additions to the Metro Railway network are set to alter Calcutta's transport map R.C. ACHARYA
  • Published 27.10.11

Calcutta has plenty to cheer about this festive season. A major make-over is on the cards for the city’s transport infrastructure. The Rail Vikas Nigam Limited is all set to get into high gear to execute five mega-projects that have been entrusted to it by the West Bengal government.

By 2015, nearly 60 kilometres of new lines are expected to be laid. This will be a substantial addition to the 25 km that exist as part of Calcutta’s Metro Railway network. The original 17-km stretch between Dum Dum and Tollygunge had taken over 20 years to be completed. The new alignments are to incorporate state-of-the-art technology and will require much less time for completion. Tunnel Boring Machine for the underground stretches and mechanized assembling of pre-cast sections of elevated track would speed up the work considerably.

Eastern and Southeastern Railway systems have a vast network of suburban services to cater to inter-city and intra-city commuting needs. Four hundred and ten EMU trains run daily in the Howrah division. Nearly 800 trains ply the Sealdah division each day. The number for the Kharagpur division is 240.

However, with only 5 per cent of its surface area available for road transport, Calcutta continues to struggle with its old and creaking public transport system. The initiative by RVNL will provide considerable relief to harassed commuters.Work has already started on the elevated stretch from Joka to Mominpur with stations at Thakurpukur, Sakher Bazar, Behala Chowrasta, Behala Bazar, Taratala and Majherhat. The road between Joka and Mominpur has already been widened to ensure that the columns that are being erected do not hinder the movement of traffic. But a lot more needs to be done. This includes setting up a base casting yard, a batching plant, the removal of tram lines, the shifting of CESC cables, water pipelines, BSNL utilities, and so on. Only then will the project progress smoothly. A ‘passenger interchange facility’ at Majherhat with the suburban and circular railway — costing about Rs 1,600 core — is expected to be completed by 2014.

A 7.75 km underground section, from Mominpur to B.B.D. Bagh, with stations at Kidderpore, Victoria Memorial, Park Street and Esplanade, with a passenger interface at Park Street with the existing north-south Metro corridor, is expected to be completed a year later. Of course, TBM would have to be deployed though the stations would be built using the standard cut and cover method. This section will also have an important passenger interchange facility at the Park Street station of the main Metro north-south Line No.1, and cost approximately Rs 2,300 crore.

Simultaneously, work is expected to be taken up on the 12.5 km-long Baranagar-Barrackpore elevated corridor which would take considerable load off the busy north-south artery leading to Barrackpore. Expected to cost Rs 2,100 core, it is scheduled for completion by June 2015. The link from Noapara to Dakshineshwar will extend the Metro Railway’s reach further. Another long section is supposed to connect the international airport with Kavi Subhash (Garia) at a cost of about Rs 3,951 crore. Last but not the least, a 15 km-long, east-west link from Salt Lake to Howrah Maidan will also land on the RVNL’s platter.

There is also the proposed 32 km- long alignment from New Garia to the airport. This is a part of the Metro Railway’s master plan. The RVNL, undoubtedly, will have its hands full for the next five years as it goes about changing Calcutta’s transport infrastructure.