East-West Metro’s Phoolbagan station is now ready for an inspection by the commissioner of railway safety (CRS), which is likely to be carried out sometime this month. The 1 km Phoolbagan stretch will be added soon after the inauguration of the first phase of East-West Metro on February 13.
The East-West line’s first phase was originally planned till Phoolbagan, but delay in building the station has made the inaugural run shorter. The authorities feel that the truncated operations can be somewhat viable if services are extended to Phoolbagan, where the underground station has been built and a 1km tunnel has been dug till Sealdah. The stretch till Salt Lake Stadium, which is ready to run, is elevated. From there, a ramp at Subhas Sarovar lead the tracks underground.
The now-complete Phoolbagan station has all the advanced features of the six elevated ones that dot the Salt Lake stretch. Alongside the large staircase, there is a ramp for the differently abled which connects to an elevator to the non-paid area on the concourse level. Another elevator from the paid area goes to the station 18m below, where passengers will take the BEML make trains.
On the safety front, the 229mx25m station has passenger screen doors, CCTV cameras, neon signs, digital information display boards, ticket-vending machines, automatic fare collection gates, customer care booths and a hi-tech station control room. Tactile paths have been laid at entry and exit points for visually impaired passengers.
Apart from being the city’s first underground Metro station to be built in 25 years, Phoolbagan station is also the first of the six underground stations of East-West Metro that is ready to function. Though Howrah Maidan, Howrah and Sealdah stations are structurally complete, they cannot start functions until the last leg of tunnelling between Esplanade and Sealdah is complete.
Work for the Phoolbagan station started in 2011 with a 2013-14 deadline. It ran into an obstacle due to delay in site handover. Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation, the implementing agency of the Rs 8,575 crore East-West line, received the last tranche of land only in 2014.
Other features at the station include three pairs of staircases, leading to the three entry-exit areas on either side of the crossing. ITD-ITD Cementation, contracted to build the Sector V-Esplanade leg of the East-West Metro, could, however, accommodate only one opening on the Narkeldanga side for want of space. The marble-floored platforms measure 140mx12m, 30m shorter than the North-South ones to accommodate the six-coach rakes instead of the eight-coach ones.
Another interesting feature is the concrete beam jutting out of the overhead exhaust duct that will ensure that cool air circulating in the platform does not escape into the tunnel. The tunnel, too, is unique. Since it will be cut off from the stations by screen doors, ducts have been built to maintain ventilation. They will suck out hot air given out by the moving train and direct it through the ventilation shafts on either side of the platform. “The station will change this crucial north-eastern point of Kolkata,” said B L Saha, a Phoolbagan resident for four decades.