By bappaditya paul
Eastern Railway is awaiting a clearance from the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) for opening the New Garia halt station, which will facilitate connectivity to the Metro Railway network. But senior railway officials are not sure when the clearance will come.
This despite the construction of the halt station being completed around four months ago and people living in the southern parts of the city as well as the adjoining localities eagerly waiting for the facility to start functioning.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had announced establishing the New Garia halt station on 7 October 2010, when she was the railway minister.
The halt station was conceived to facilitate sub-urban railway commuters hailing from areas such as Sonarpur, Laxmikantapur, Baruipur etcetera an easy access to the Metro Railway services through the Kavi Subhash terminal station and vice-versa.
Following Miss Banerjee’s announcement, Metro Railway began constructing the New Garia halt station in April 2011 and the work was completed late in February this year. It has cost the Metro a whopping Rs 12-crore to construct the station.
“The work was completed in a record time and this is probably the best sub-urban railway station that Eastern Railway is going to have. We have handed over the facility to Eastern Railway and it is now up to them when to throw open the station for use,” said Protyush Ghosh, Metro Railway spokesperson.
The two platforms at the newly-constructed halt station are about eight-metre in breadth and around 300-metre in length ~ enough for catering a 12-coach EMU train. There are six dispersals ~ two on the Up platform, two on the Down platform and two at the front opening up towards the Panchasayer area.
One escalator each has been installed at the dispersals on the Up and Down platforms and there is a large sub-way linking the halt with the Kavi Subhash Metro station. Metro Railway has also installed separate booking counters on the subway for issuance of Metro and sub-urban railway tickets and has posted eight additional staff to man counters belonging to the tube railway.
Contacted over the delay in putting the halt station to use; Sealdah divisional railway manager (DRM) Suchitto Kumar Das said, they were awaiting for the CRS clearance.
“We had applied for the clearance sometime in March, after which the CRS wrote back to us seeking clarifications about some changes made in the original design of the construction. We have complied with the CRS’ requirements and are now awaiting a final go ahead. This being the case, it is beyond me to specify when can the halt station start functioning,” the DRM said.
According to a rough estimation, about one-lakh commuters are likely to use the new facility for accessing the Metro Railway services. At present, the Kavi Subhash Metro station handles about 45,000 commuters a day.
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This piece first appeared in The Statesman on 28 June 2012.)