Move station near airport, says Metro

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By SANJAY MANDAL
  • Published 20.03.10
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  • Elevated station
  • No escalator
  • Long walk from terminal buildings

Metro Railway has requested the Calcutta airport authorities to allow the existing Biman Bandar station to be shifted near the integrated terminal building that is being built, to facilitate the smooth transit of passengers.

The existing station is around 200 metres from where the integrated terminal building is coming up. Metro rail officials also requested the airport director, R. Srinivasan, to allow the installation of a walkalator between the terminal building and the station. “We have received the request from Metro rail and the matters will be discussed,” said Srinivasan.

Metro officials said the existing Biman Bandar station is the terminal station for the ill-conceived suburban rail service from Dum Dum, which has been running practically without passengers for the past three years.

Recently, the Railway Board had sanctioned a project to convert the Dum Dum Cantonment-Biman Bandar suburban train service into Metro rail. “The elevated tracks that were laid for the suburban rail service can remain since Metro rakes run on broad-gauge tracks but the overhead power supply line needs to be replaced with a third rail,” said an official involved with the project.

The elevated tracks will merge with the suburban line near Dum Dum Cantonment, providing passengers a viable option for reaching the city and its suburbs. Walkalators would be installed at Biman Bandar station and the airport to spare passengers the trouble of walking the distance with luggage.

However, the availability of space has to be considered before the station can be relocated, airport officials pointed out. “The land availability near the terminal building has to be looked into before permission for shifting the station can be granted. A number of power sub-stations have been planned for the area,” said a senior airport official.

The existing 3.8-km stretch, of which 2.8km is elevated, was commissioned on July 29, 2006, by the then railway minister Lalu Prasad. Eastern Railway had tried to popularise the service by increasing the number of trains to eight pairs a day but even that failed to increase footfall.

“One of the main reasons why the suburban train service has not taken off is the elevated station. The distance from the terminal buildings doesn’t help either,” said a railway official.

Under the new Rs 300-crore plan, Metro rakes will ply between Noapara and Biman Bandar. Passengers from northern and southern suburbs will have to change trains at Noapara.