The services of the East West Metro were on Sunday extended from Salt Lake to Phoolbagan in the heart of Kolkata. Phoolbagan is the first underground Metro station along the 16.55-km East West Metro route that will connect Howrah Maidan on the other bank of the river Hooghly to Newtown in the north eastern fringes of Kolkata.
With the resumption of Metro services in Phoolbagan, Kolkata gets a new underground Metro Station after a gap of 25 years.
The East West Metro was commissioned in 2008, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said during the virtual launch of the project, adding that very little work on the project was done before 2015, leading to “huge delay” and “cost escalation” of the project. “I am told that by the end of next year the entire project in the 16.55-km route will be completed,” Mr. Goyal said.
The first phase of the East West Metro station from Salt Lake’s Sector V to Salt Lake Stadium was opened on February 13, 2020. With the extension of services to Phoolbagan, the distance between Sector V and Phoolbagan can be travelled in 16 minutes which takes about an hour by road, said Manoj Joshi, general manager of Metro Railway. The services of East West Metro to Phoolbagan will be open for general passengers from October 5.
What makes the East West Metro project unique is two tunnels running parallel to each other about 37 metre below the riverbed of Hooghly. The first underwater tunnels in the country which were completed in 2017 are considered an engineering marvel. Of the 16.55 km, about 10.88 km of the East West Metro will be underground.
Metro Railway officials say that once completed, the East West Metro will ferry about seven lakh to eight lakh passengers. Kolkata is the first city in the country to get Metro Railway as early in 1984 and the North South Metro Railway was ferrying about six lakh passengers on a weekday before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The services of Kolkata Metro were resumed last month and more than 50,000 passengers are availing Metro rides daily. Metro services are considered the lifeline of transport infrastructure of Kolkata which has the lowest road area when compared to other metropolises.
Meanwhile, the event, like the inauguration of the first phase of the East West Metro, witnessed allegations by the State’s ruling Trinamool Congress that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was not accorded due respect by not being invited to the event. State’s Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim said there would have been no Metro Railway in Kolkata without Ms. Banerjee.