The East-West Metro will be ready to run its first train between Sector V and Howrah Maidan by mid-2020, the managing director of the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) announced today.
The project has been embroiled in problems from the start, forcing the implementing agency to defer the deadline thrice.
The last stubborn hurdle got out of the way on June 18, when the Archaeological Survey of India gave permission to burrow tunnels and build a station near three heritage buildings in BBD Bag.
“We are confident that three years from today, the first train would run between Salt Lake and Howrah Maidan. We will complete the project by then,” managing director Satish Kumar said.
The revised deadline for Phase I – Sector V to Sealdah – was June. The target for Phase II – Sealdah to Howrah Maidan – was December 2019. The Phase II deadline has had to be extended because of the delay in securing the ASI’s nod. “The underground stations at Esplanade and Mahakaran would take three years to build and the new deadline takes that into account,” Kumar said.
The estimated cost at the time of commissioning the project was Rs 4,874 crore. The land logjam and legal hassles have doubled the budget to Rs 8,996 crore. An extension of the deadline for Phase II means further cost escalation.
“Increase in costs depends on several factors, including the rate of inflation. We will try to keep it within Rs 9,000 crore,” the KMRC chief said.
Esplanade is tipped to be the busiest station on the route with an expected footfall of 55,000 passengers an hour. The station will be the meeting point of three routes – North-South, East-West and Joka-BBD Bag. Sealdah could be the second busiest station with 45,000-50,000 passengers every hour.
The East-West route comprises 5.74km of elevated tracks built on a viaduct and 10.81km of underground and river tunnels. Tunnel boring under the Hooghly had started on April 14 and ended this week.
The first tunnel-boring machine to cross the Hooghly riverbed is currently stationed in a vacant area off Strand Road where the vent shaft is being built. The second machine that is creating the tunnel for Howrah-bound trains crossed the Hooghly on Tuesday.
Asked if the tunnels could withstand earthquakes, B. Dewanjee, the chief engineer of the project, said: “Calcutta is in Zone 3 of the seismic map. The East-West tunnels and stations would be able to withstand even those earthquakes that occur in Zone 4.”
Rakes for the East-West Metro are scheduled to start arriving in December. BEML, a Bangalore-based public sector unit, has been contracted to build 14 air-conditioned rakes, each with six coaches and a passenger capacity of 2,068.