By January, next year, the entire East-West Metro will be operational, Arora said. So, 21.5km should be added by then.
From Monday, Metro will run 284 services on the North-South corridor, said Arora. With eight more trains, the carrier will be four short of its pre-pandemic fleet.
The GM, Eastern Railway (ER), additionally helming the city’s transport lifeline, said, “Kolkata now has 39km of Metro network (North-South and East-West). By 2026, we shall easily achieve 100km.” To cater to the extensive network, 47 new rakes will be procured in the next three years, including China’s Dalian (14) and CRRC Zhuzhou (eight) and 14 rakes from Chennai’s ICF, Arora said. On the delay over Dalian rakes, Arora said, “The first one is undergoing various tests, which got delayed because of the pandemic. Once the rake gets the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) nod, the rest can come.”
Sitting with Manas Sarkar and NC Karmali, MD and director (projects), respectively of KMRC, implementing agency of the 16km East-West Metro, and Amit K Roy, ED of RVNL, executing most of the Metro corridors, Arora gave a lowdown on timelines of the projects criss-crossing the city.
Kolkata’s Line 2 is now a truncated 6.97km from Sector V to Phoolbagan, awaiting CRS’s nod to add 2.3km to Sealdah. CRS Md Lateif Khan, heading the autonomous body under ministry of civil aviation, inspected the section on March 16-17.
Dispensing the latest dilemma over the first phase of the Joka-Esplanade and New Garia-Airport corridors, from Joka to Taratala on DH Road and New Garia to Ruby along EM Bypass, or extend these further from Joka to Majerhat and New Garia to Sector V respectively, Arora said infrastructure projects couldn’t be left idle: “We must keep commissioning sections as we complete them.”
Earlier, Metro Railway, the umbrella organization for the city’s rapid transit system, favoured the extended Phase 1 of both lines while RVNL batted for the original launching plans. Arora said the sections would run with “one train on one line” system (only one rake rolling along each track, sans signals) for now because of the delay in floating tenders for communication-based train control (CBTC) signalling. The Noapara-New Barrackpore line may start by August 2026, but its Barasat extension was uncertain because of land issues, Arora said. “Nearly 18 lakh people will be using Kolkata Metro daily by 2025,” he said.