Sealdah traffic fine-tuning

The state government has engaged a consultant to study the traffic circulation plan for Sealdah and suggest remedies for potential logjams in the area once the first phase of the East-West Metro becomes travel-ready.

By Kinsuk Basu
  • Published 23.05.17
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May 22: The state government has engaged a consultant to study the traffic circulation plan for Sealdah and suggest remedies for potential logjams in the area once the first phase of the East-West Metro becomes travel-ready.

An estimated 20 lakh people travel through Sealdah every day and the addition of the East-West Metro to the available transport options could bring a few lakh more commuters to what is already among Calcutta's most congested areas.

The railways' consultancy arm, RITES, has been commissioned to study the existing traffic plan and come out with solutions to the congestion.

RITES would also draw up a proposal on how to convert the tram depot in Rajabazar into a multi-tier terminal that would have a direct connection with Sealdah for commuters planning to take buses.

"The consultancy firm would submit its report within four months," said a senior officer of the transport department.

Sealdah is the hub of the city's traffic chaos, thanks to the sheer number of commuters that float in and out of the area every hour. Around 12 lakh passengers use Sealdah station daily to commute through three lines - Sealdah Main, Sealdah North and Sealdah South. The area also has travellers moving in all directions within the city - Beleghata in the east, towards NRS Medical College and Moulali in the south, and BB Ganguly Street and Rajabazar in the north.

Sources said RITES would begin by calculating the vehicle density and volume, including the number of buses, mini buses and autos that criss-cross the area at a given time of day. The idea is to draw up an estimate of the average footfall, including patients headed for BR Singh Hospital and NRS Medical College.

Engineers said an estimate of the vehicle density would help in collating key information like congestion levels at different times of day, lane occupancy and peak-hour factor, which is the ratio of the peak 15-minute flow rate to the average hourly flow rate of traffic.

The first phase of the East-West Metro, between Sector V in Salt Lake and Sealdah, is scheduled to become operational by 2017-end. Sources in the Kolkata Metro Railway Corporation said having a comprehensive traffic dispersal plan was crucial to starting operations.

"An estimated 5 lakh people would be using the East-West Metro station in Sealdah once the service begins. Unless there is a proper traffic flow plan, the situation could get difficult to handle," said a senior official of the agency.

Once an estimate of the existing traffic volume and density is made along with projections, RITES would suggest a dispersal system around Sealdah keeping in mind the additional footfall from the East-West Metro.

Sources said the dispersal plan would factor in the proposed elevated bus terminus at the Rajabazar tram depot, where at least 60 vehicles can be parked. This would considerably unburden APC Road.

Last December, the state government announced plans to build a skywalk between Sealdah station and Kaiser Street and two ramps from the Sealdah flyover to the station. A flyover to BB Ganguly Street is also on the radar.

Senior officials of various agencies, including police and the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, think it would be difficult to execute these projects because of multiple factors.