Railway Minister Shri Piyush Goyal will inaugurate India’s first ever underwater metro train in Kolkata today at 5 Pm. The first phase of the East West Metro corridor will connect Sector V with Salt Lake Stadium over a 4.88 km stretch.
While the new metro line will be inaugurated today evening, regular commercial services will start from tomorrow, Friday 8 am onwards. The metro line will be connecting Sector V, Karunamoyee, Central Park, City Centre, Bengal Chemical and Salt Lake Stadium stations.
The total length of the rapid transit system is 16.6 km out of which 10.9 km is underground section. Of this underground section, 9.8 km has been completed and only a little more than a kilometre is remaining. Today, 4.88 km stretch of the metro line will be inaugurated.
Poised to be an engineering marvel upon completion, the East-West Metro corridor between Sector V and Howrah Maidan stations comprises both elevated viaducts covering 5.8 km along with the 10.9 km long underground section.
In a first in the country, tunnels have been bored under the Hooghly river to connect the twin cities of Kolkata and Howrah through the rapid transit system. The underground section of the metro corridor passes through some of Kolkata’s most-congested areas, dotted with century old buildings, several of which are in a dilapidated condition.
State-of-the-Art Metro Rakes
All the five rakes that were inspected and cleared by the Commissioner of Railway Safety went through trials on Wednesday. Though all five have been requisitioned for East-West Metro services, only three will be used for now. One pair will run daily and the third will be on standby. The pairs will be changed every day for maintenance.
East-West Metro trains, built by Bengaluru-based BEML, run on more advanced technology where the driver’s role is minimal. The north-south section still has non-AC rakes and air-conditioned ones built by the Railways-owned Integral Coach Factory in Perambur near Chennai.
“For East-West Metro, the driver has to know everything about the modern system. He may have less to do because everything is automatic and the system will correct him whenever he makes a mistake. But the drivers in EastWest Metro will have to take a lot of stress. They have to be on their toes all the time,” an engineer said.
East-West Metro will run on a communication-based train control and signalling system. The system has no signal posts or fixed blocks. A train will pick up signals from the tracks, which will be open for a train to move only when the earlier train moves. If the tracks ahead are blocked, a train will stop automatically. Trains on the north-south Metro route have a protection and warning system that makes them stop only if the signal is red. East-West Metro, which aims to connect Salt Lake Sector V with Howrah Maidan through the Hooghly, is being built by the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC), an independent agency owned by the Railways and partially by the urban development ministry. The trains on the East-West route will be operated by Metro Railway, which now runs trains in the Noapara-Kavi Subhash stretch.
Much Awaited and Anticipated Project
The metro project suffered an unexpected hurdle last year when an aquifer burst during tunnelling work, leading to huge ground settlement and the collapse of several buildings in the Bowbazar area of central Kolkata. The incident is likely to affect the completion of the entire project which was scheduled for June 2021 but now might be finished only by mid-2022. Resumption of the tunnelling work using tunnel boring machines, which had been halted since the incident on August 31 last year, got a green light from the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday, 11th February 2020.