Kolkata’s Metro network will be the second widest after Delhi, with the railways already allocating much of the funds for the construction of Metro tentacles across the metropolis and beyond.
The railways have already started simultaneous constructions at a neverseen-before speed at alignments like Joka-BBD Bag, New Garia-Airport and Dum Dum-Barasat via Airport. The Metro railway authority has set a deadline of 2015 by which the entire network is likely to become operative.
For this financial year, the railways have allocated Rs 750 crore for Joka-BBD Bag metro, Rs 1050 crore for Noapara-Barasat via Airport and Rs 1050 crore for New Garia-Airport. This is the highest ever allocation for any railway project in a metropolitan by the railways.
The railways have also changed the Dum Dum-Airport alignment. Earlier it was thought that the Metro up line from Dum Dum would touch Noapara, Ramkrishna Pally and Shantinagar before reaching Airport and the down line would touch Noapara, Dum Dum Cantonment, Jessore Road and Airport. “However, to bring down the cost, we have changed the alignment. The alignment from Noapara to Airport via Jessore Road will be double-line for both way movements.”
In fact, the airport will also be connected by the 32-km New Garia-Airport via Rajarhat alignment. Both the Dum Dum-Airport and the New Garia-Airport alignments will go underground. There will be direct access from the Airport underground Metro station to the integrated airport terminal though a giant escalator. The Dum Dum-Airport alignment will go underground after reaching Jessore Road and New Garia-Airport alignment will go underground after reaching VIP Road.
The 5.2-km Dum Dum-Dakshineswar alignment will run on an elevated track and will be further extended by 12.5 km till Barrackpore. “The constructions are on real fast-track, as we don’t face land acquisition hurdle. The project sites are mostly on vested land and we have taken utmost care to be less invasive as far as razing properties are concerned,” said Metro Rail spokesman Pratyush Ghosh.
“There will be interchanging facilities for the passengers from one Metro corridor to another and also from suburban train services of Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway. For instance, the interchange between north-south and east-west Metro would be at Central station. Similarly, the interchange between Joka-BBD Bag and north-south Metro would be at Park Street,” the spokesperson said.
With these ever increasing tentacles of Metro network, a few suburban railway stations would be very important for their interface with Metro rail. For instance, Dum Dum will be an important stations where both north-south Metro, airport alignment and north-suburban railway will have an interface, said a metro spokesperson
“So, we are asking the state government to upgrade the existing dispersal system, otherwise there will be complete chaos outside the station during the peak hours, once the entire operation starts functioning.” Besides, we have plans to introduce the common ticket system for the commuters who need to avail themselves of different modes of rail transport to reach their destinations,” the spokesperson added.
With the introduction of a Rs 56-crore automatic fare collection (AFC) and new ticketing system, the Kolkata Metro is also going snazzy. Three air-conditioned rakes have been introduced, giving much-needed respite to commuters in the sultry weather.