Kolkata to get five new Metro routes
Five new spans of the Metro Railway network in Kolkata have been included in the railway budget of 2010-11. This will come as a relief to many who were wondering if Mamata Banerjee would succeed in getting the projects cleared at a time when the Centre is not too keen on the railways getting involved in urban transportation projects. The five extensions that have been included in the budget are: Joka-BBD Bag via Majerhat, Noapara-Barasat via Bimanbandar, Dum Dum-New Garia via Rajarhat, Baranagar-Barrackpore and Baranagar-Dakshineswar. Mamata has already laid the foundation stone for the extension of the metro network up to Dakshineswar. Though Mamata said that the stretch between Garia Bazaar and New Garia ‘is likely’ to be completed soon, she did not commit to any time frame. The railway minister also did not mention any deadline for the arrival of new rakes for the Metro network. The overworked, old rakes are getting too worn out for use. More importantly, the number of rakes are proving inadequate to maintain the schedule, now that the network has been extended up to Garia Bazaar. “The Metro ticketing system has collapsed completely. We had expected the minister to mention her plans for a new system and a date for arrival of new rakes. New projects are important but existing services should also be maintained to provide better services to commuters,” a senior railway official said. Officials pointed out that the Joka-BBD Bag section will run on elevated tracks along the existing Circular Railway tracks. They also hope that the Dum Dum-New Garia stretch via Rajarhat will run along the EM Bypass, providing relief to those living on either side. While Mamata has announced development of the suburban railway systems in Howrah and Sealdah, the much awaited announcement of a rail flyover at Dum Dum did not come. This flyover is extremely crucial for better suburban services. Three suburban sections converge at Dum Dum and commuters fall victim to severe congestion before entering Sealdah. Mamata announced that new services will be introduced in the Sealdah-Canning, Sealdah-Namkhana, Sealdah-Bongaon, Howrah-Tarakeswar, Howrah-Bandel-Budwan, Sealdah-Ranaghat and Sealdah-Kolkata (via Ballygunge-Majerhat-BBD Bag) sections. A survey will also be conducted to link Howrah and Sealdah. The Ballygunge station will get a new building with all amenities including waiting hall, toilets and an approach road. It will be renamed Bahadur Shah Zafar. The budget had no mention of an arc between Dhakuria and Lake Gardens that would enable trains from the Sealdah south section to reach BBD Bag via Majerhat, without touching Ballygunge. Officials, who were expecting a passenger terminal at Dankuni, were also disappointed. They believe that upgrade of services at Howrah station will not be possible till some load is shifted to Dankuni.