Tag Archives: Kolkata Metro

Work starts in Kolkata for India’s first under-river Metro tunnel

BY BAPPADITYA PAUL

IT was in 1984 that Kolkata had gifted India the country’s first Metro railway. Now, 33 years down the line, the City of Joy has added another first to India’s urban transportation landscape.

The public sector Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Ltd today, 14 April 2017, commenced work on digging up under river Metro rail tunnels that will connect Howrah to Salt Lake via north Kolkata.

The 520 metre long twin river tunnels, passing under the Hooghly river, are part of East-West Metro Corridor that KMRCL is constructing since 2009. The 16.55 km Metro corridor is to run from Salt Lake Sector-V to Howrah Maidan.

Today morning, KMRCL organised a puja at Ramkrishnapur Ghat located opposite to Howrah railway station on Hooghly river bank, seeking blessings of the river God. Following this, a tunnel boring machine ceremoniously began the tunnelling work.

“This is happening for the first time in the country. We have made all necessary arrangements to ensure safety of our workers and complete the task smoothly,” project manager Virendra Kaul said.

The proposed tunnels will be dug about 90 feet or 18 metres below the Hooghly river. They will run from below Howrah station post office at Howrah station-end, to Armenian Ghat, at Kolkata-end, about a 1-km away from the business hub Burrabazar.

Of the two underwater tunnels, one is for Howrah-bound Metro trains; the other is for Salt Lake-bound trains. KMRCL officials said that 250 workers will be working on the tunnels on a daily basis.

The target is to place 10 concrete rings a day, each of which measures 1.5 metres. Project engineers said that at this rate they should be able to complete the 520 metre twin tunnels in the next three months, that is, by end June.

Once this happens, Kolkata would have added yet another feather to its glory. People, however, shall have to wait at least until 2020 to ride a Metro train passing below the Hooghly river.

KMRCL has plans to throw open a near 7 km stretch from Salt Lake to Phoolbagan, off Sealdah station, by end 2018. The stretch between Phoolbagan to Howrah Maidan via Sealdah shall have to wait for the work to get completed.

(Author is editor, NEWSMEN, Kolkata. This report first appeared on www.newsmen.in on 14 April 2017.)

 

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Kolkata Metro increases weekend trains from today

A Kolkata Metro train. File photo.
A Kolkata Metro train. File photo.

By bappaditya paul

BEGINNING TODAY (Saturday, 4 March) Metro Railway, Kolkata has increased the number of trains on weekends.

Now on, Metro Railway will operate 224 trains every Saturday instead of the previous 206 trains. On Sundays, the number of trains will be 110 as against the previous 94.

The minimum and maximum frequency of trains on Saturdays will be 7 minutes and 15 minutes, respectively; on  Sundays it will be 10 minutes and 20 minutes. Prior to this, the train frequency on Saturday ranged between 7 to 20 minutes and on Sunday it was between 15 to 30 minutes.

The increase in number of trains on weekends comes as a great relief for commuters who had been compelled to travel in crammed Metro coaches with the ever swelling crowd.

Metro Railway carries an average of 4.83-lakh passengers on Saturdays; on Sundays, it transports around 2.53 lakh passengers. As against this, the number of people travelling by Metro on weekdays is around 5.72 lakh when the number of trains operated is 274 a day.

Reel and reality of Kolkata Metro help-lines

LACK OF MOBILE CONNECTIVITY IN METRO TUNNELS MAKES MOCKERY OF SECURITY HELPLINES

By bappaditya paul
A young woman travelling in a crowded Metro train is being constantly shoved by a man; she feels uncomfortable and moves away. The man repositions himself and continues to harass the woman, compelling her to directly ask him to behave. But this warning too going in vain, the woman rings up the Metro Help Line from her mobile phone. Officials manning the help line acts promptly and the man is arrested by Railway Protection Force the moment he steps of out of the train at a next Metro station.No Signal 1This is a promotional video that Metro Railway airs day in and day out on TV sets installed on platforms of all its stations. Now cut to the reality:

Last Monday, Antara Kanungo (24) boarded a Metro from Netaji (Kudghat) station for Central and got a corner seat in the ladies’ section. A flock of young men boarded the train from Rabindra Sarobar and stood huddling together beside the door; one of them rested his back on the handrail of Antara’s seat. She requested the youth to stand straight; instead of obliging, he gave her a dirty look and asked her to travel by taxi if she was averse to such touch. A co-traveller voiced a protest only to be booed down by the loutish youths.

Outraged, Antara dialed the Metro Help Line from her mobile but alas there is no signal on her Vodafone connection! The co-passenger with Airtel connection offers help but the signal fails her as well.No signal woman“I felt so helpless. The man got down at Esplanade much before I stepped out on the Central station platform and my phone’s signal became live again,” Antara said in a frustrated tone.

It is, however, not an issue with Vodafone or Airtel signal alone; mobile signal of no operator is available in Metro trains when they pass through tunnels. Signals are partially available only on Kolkata Metro ticketing areas and platforms where the operators have installed “repeaters or micro BTS” for which they pay an annual license fee to Metro Railway. These repeaters or micro BTS have a low coverage area.

But as if oblivious of this, Metro Railway in January this year introduced two help lines ~ a Women Help Line and Security Help Line ~ to enable passengers to contact from moving train should there be a need.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), whose members include almost all big private mobile operators, are not willing to shoulder the blame.
“There is no (mobile) signal as the tunnels are not wired with network,” said Mr V K Cherian, COAI’s director corporate communications, without clarifying whether their members would take initiative to address the issue.No SignalAsked about the modalities on which private operators were charged for installing micro BTSs at Metro stations and why they were failing to ensure connectivity inside the tunnels, Metro Railway’s Chief Traffic Manager (CTM) Mr K V Rao, refused to respond. “This is not linked to public interest and hence I will not respond,” Mr Rao said in a rude tone unbecoming of a senior railway officer. In Metro it is the CTM who looks after all commercial aspects such as renting out a space or facility to a private entity.

Metro Railway spokesperson, Mr R N Mahaptra, however, said that they were “working closely with all operators to ensure mobile connectivity inside the tunnels.”

In December 2013, at a cost of Rs 18-crore, Metro had introduced in its trains and tunnels a dedicated internal mobile telecommunications facility called GSM-R for the use of its train drivers. Metro sources said that the plan now was to lease out a bandwidth from GSM-R to the private mobile operators so that they could provide connectivity to the subscribers.

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 3 August 2014.)

Bus fare status quo halts Metro Saturday train increase

By bappaditya paul

Call it an irony that Mamata Banerjee government’s refusal to hike bus fare is proving to be a double whammy for the commuters in Kolkata! Mamata BanerjeeWhile people are already in the lurch due to withdrawal of buses by private operators, Kolkata’s lifeline Metro Railway has now delayed its plan to increase trains on Saturdays till the time the state government revises the bus fare.

This is despite the fact that Metro trains are witnessing higher crowd on Saturdays, in turn making the ride into a real ordeal for commuters. With 204 trains, Metro Railway carries an average 5.10-lakh passengers on Saturdays; on weekdays it transports 5.50-lakh commuters with the number of trains being 274. This comes to around 2,500 passengers every Metro train on Saturdays as against the 2,007 persons a train on weekdays.

Kolkata Metro train that run with eight coaches are designed to carry a maximum 2,558 passengers.

Crowded Kolkata busMetro Railway authorities however are of the view that the high passenger density on Saturdays was the result of a drop in number of buses and the scenario might change once the bus fare is increased. At present, the minimum fare for both Metro and bus is Rs 5.

“A hike in bus fare is likely to have any of the two implications. First, this may prompt private operators to run more buses and in turn result in a fall in Metro passengers as people will have more option. The second scenario can be that if the bus fare becomes almost equal to that of Metro, there will be a surge in Metro commuters,” said a senior Metro Railway official. A Kolkata Metro train“This is why we have decided to delay our plans to increase trains till the time the government revises the bus fare. For a moment, we are not looking at a huge drop in Metro passengers after a bus fare hike; what we are foreseeing is that in the changed scenario there may be a higher crowd on weekdays. In that case, we shall have no other choice but to increase trains on weekdays,” the officer said.

At this point, Metro authorities are averse to increasing trains on Saturdays, as they will not be able to reduce the number of trains even if there is an increase in weekday demand later. Metro Railway has 27 rakes, which the authorities say is not sufficient to increase trains on all seven days a week.

Metro at present operates 274 trains daily from Monday to Friday, 204 trains on Saturday and 96 trains on Sunday.

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 10 June 2014.)

Green signal via fare hike

KOLKATA METRO CUTS DOWN LOSSES FIRST TIME IN RECENT YEARS

By bappaditya paul 
Thanks to the fare hike in November last year, Metro Railway for the first time in recent memory has cut down losses and has improved its operating ratio.   Kolkata Metro AC rakeIn the 2013-14 fiscal year that ended on 31 March, Metro reported an operating loss of Rs 110.84 crore. But the silver lining for Kolkata’s lifeline is that, the loss this time was Rs 14.16 crore less than the previous year; in 2012-13 the loss was Rs 125 crore.

Consequent to this, Metro Railway’s operating ratio has improved to Rs 286 from what was Rs 328 the previous year. This means, during 2013-14, Metro Railway spent Rs 286 to earn every Rs 100; this is an improvement of Rs 42.

This is a good sign as Metro has been in the red for over a decade now and the losses were mounting up year after year. In 2010-11 the operating loss was Rs 83.91 crore, in 2011-12 Rs 99.26 crore and in 2012-13 Rs 125 crore. Metro Bhavan Kolkata Sources in Metro Railway said that in 2013-14, Metro’s total work expenditure stood at Rs 255.89 crore and the gross earning was Rs 145.05 crore. As regards the quarter-to-quarter earnings, it registered a remarkable leap in passenger revenue in the third and fourth quarter, that is, between October and March.

“The Metro fare was hiked on 7 November. Consequent to this, we witnessed Rs 10.84 crore increase in passenger revenue during October to December and Rs 16.33 crore increase during January to March. This has largely helped us to cut down the losses,” said a senior official in Metro Railway.  Kolkata Metro trainIn November, the Metro fare was hiked by 25 to 85 per cent based on different distance slabs: Rs 5 for a journey up to five km, Rs 10 for 5-10 km, Rs 15 for 10-20 km, Rs 20 for 20-25 km and Rs 25 for 25-30 km. Prior to that, Metro used to charge Rs 4 up to five km, Rs 6 for 5-10 km, Rs 8 for 10-15 km, Rs 10 for 15-20 km, Rs 12 for 20-25 km and Rs 14 for 25-30 km.

In 2013-14 Metro Railway carried 19.52 crore passengers as compared to the 18.83 crore who traveled the previous year.

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report was first published in The Statesman on 28 May 2014.)

New Kolkata Metro fares with 25 – 85 per cent hike comes into effect

By bappaditya paul

The new fares in Kolkata Metro Railway, with a hike ranging between 25 to 85 per cent, has come into effect from 7 November, Thursday. Kolkata Metro AC rakeAccording to the new fare structure, Metro will now charge Rs 5 for a journey up to five km, Rs 10 for 5-10 km, Rs 15 for 10-20 km, Rs 20 for 20-25 km and Rs 25 for 25-30 km.

Till Wednesday, the fare used to be Rs 4 for a journey up to five km, Rs 6 for 5-10 km, Rs 8 for 10-15 km, Rs 10 for 15-20 km and Rs 12 for 20-25 km and Rs 14 for 25-30 km.

While the bonus granted on smart cards has been reduced from the previous 20 to 37 per cent to a flat rate of 10 per cent, irrespective of the amount recharged; the Metro has altogether done away with the Re 1 concession that smart card users used to get on every ride.

However, commuters purchasing a smart card now, which will continue to cost Rs 100, will get the benefit of Rs 44 ride value. This is because the security deposit for smart card has been reduced to Rs 60 from the previous Rs 100.

Smart cards can now be recharged up to Rs 1,000 at a time as against the previous limit of Rs 500. Kolkata Metro trainThe Minimum Multi Ride (MMR), Limited Multi Ride (LMR), General Multi Ride (GMR) and Extended Multi Ride (EMR) cards will not work anymore and those commuters possessing a MMR/ LMR/ GMR or EMR card will have to deposit the card at Metro counters so to get it converted into a regular smart card.

The unused ride value will be credited to the regular smart card that the Metro will issue to the commuters without a fresh charge.

Kolkata Metro Railway runs a total distance of 27.217 km from Noapara in the city’s northern fringes to Kavi Subhash (New Garia) in the southern fringes.

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 7 November 2013.)

CALCULATE YOUR NEW KOLKATA METRO FARE

By bappaditya paul 

How to calculate your new Metro fare that is coming into effect from 18 October?

Metro Railway has divided the entire route into six slabs: Rs 5 (0-2 km), Rs 10 (2-6 km), Rs 15 (6-12 km), Rs 20 (12-21 km), Rs 25 (21-30 km) and Rs 30 (30-40 km).

Now add the distance between two stations that you travel and find out in which slab it falls. For example, from Dum Dum to Esplanade, the distance is 8.804 km, and hence it will fall in the 6-12 km slab; the fare will be Rs 15.

STATION

DISTANCE

BETWEEN STATIONS

Noapara

Originating Point

Dum Dum

2.091 km

Belgachia

2.15 km

Shyambazar

1.62 km

Shovabazar Sutanuti

0.928 km

Girish Park

1.001 km

Mahatma Gandhi Road

0.766 km

Central

1.037 km

Chandni Chowk

0.597 km

Esplanade

0.705 km

Park Street

0.805 km

Maidan

0.727 km

Rabindra Sadan

1.016 km

Netaji Bhawan

0.848 km

Jatin Das Park

1.033 km

Kalighat

0.621 km

Rabindra Sarovar

1.243 km

Mahanayak Uttam Kumar (Tollygunge)

1.344 km

Netaji (Kudghat)

1.814 km

Masterda Surya Sen (Bansdroni)

1.722 km

Gitanjali (Naktala)

1.053 km

Kavi Nazrul (Garia Bazar)

1.245 km

Shahid Khudiram (Dhalai Bridge)

1.275 km

Kavi Subhash (New Garia)

1.576 km

TOTAL DISTANCE

27.217 km

*ADDED LATER: Following passenger outrage, Metro Railway  introduced revised fare from 7 November instead of 18 October as was originally plannd. Also they reworked the hike facilitating some relief to commuters. Read a 7 November 2013 post for details.

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India.)

Kolkata Metro Fares to Get Dearer from 18 October

Near 100 per cent rise to affect 6,50,000 commuters

By bappaditya paul     

Kolkata Metro Railway fares will go up by about 100 per cent with effect from 18 October. The Railway Board has issued an order to this effect and sent it to the Metro Railway headquarters here today. The move will affect 6,50,000-odd commuters who travel by Metro trains daily.

Metro AC trainAccording to the existing fare structure, Metro charges between Rs 4 and Rs 14 in six slabs for a ride up to the full distance of 27.27 km from Dum Dum to Noapara. This will now range between Rs 5 and Rs 25.

That’s not all. The concession granted to prepaid Smart Card users has been slashed to a flat rate of 10 per cent irrespective of the amount  recharged. The concession, in the form of additional money value, will be credited at the time of recharging a card.

At present, Smart Card users get a cumulative concession ranging between 20 – 37 per cent depending on the  recharge amount, granted by way of additional money value credited at the time of recharge and by giving a concession on every ride undertaken.

Noapara Metro Railway station, Kolkata.
Noapara Metro Railway station, Kolkata.

In the new fare structure, the fare has been divided into six slabs: Rs 5 (0-2 km), Rs 10 (2-6 km), Rs 15 (6-12 km), Rs 20 (12-21 km), Rs 25 (21-30 km) and Rs 30 (30-40 km). The last fare slab has been decided keeping in mind the proposed expansion of Metro route in the near future, such as the one to Dakshineswar. The Metro now collects the fare in slabs of Rs 4 (0-5 km), Rs 6 (5-10 km), Rs 8 (10-15 km), Rs 10 (15-20 km), Rs 12 (20-25 km) and Rs 14 (25-30 km).

“We have initiated the upgrade work on our fare collection mechanism,  necessary for realising the fare as per the revised structure. We shall be working through the Pujas and start charging the new fare from 18 October,” said Metro Railway general manager Radhey Shyam.

The hike will bring the Kolkata Metro fare almost at par with Delhi Metro, which charges Rs 23 for a 25.15-km ride from Dilshad Garden to Rithala.

A Kolkata Metro AC train at Tollygunge station

The hike in fare will give the Kolkata Metro the much-needed revenue support at a time when it is running at an operating ratio of Rs 326.97 as on 31 March this year; meaning, the Metro spent Rs 326.97 to earn every Rs 100. The operating loss stood at around Rs 125 crore during the 2012-13 fiscal year.

As a result of this, the upkeep of the Metro trains and other facilities was getting affected and so were the Metro expansion projects. The last time Kolkata Metro fare was revised was in 2002.

*ADDED LATER: Following passenger outrage, Metro Railway introduced the revised fare on 7 November instead of 18 October as was originally planned. Also they reduced the hike a little facilitating some relief to commuters. For details, read 7 November 2013 post on this blog.

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report was first published in The Statesman on 9 October 2013.)

3-year on: Kolkata Metro fails to fix teething troubles in AC rakes

By bappaditya paul

Metro Railway has failed to fix the teething trouble in its air-conditioned (AC) rakes in nearly three years  since the first AC rake was introduced to the Metro fleet. Metro Railway now has 13 AC rakes and on an average they encounter three snags a month, throwing up the schedule of six lakh plus commuters up side down.Metro AC train In the first quarter this fiscal, from April to June, Metro trains reported 15 snags; majority nine in AC rakes. In 2012-13, snags in AC rakes were 32 out of the total 63 reported.

The nature of the snags that make the AC rakes stall is recurrent and has been there  ever since the first Ac rake was introduced to the Metro fleet on 7 October 2010. These include ~ brake binding, malfunctioning of control circuit, faults in power circuit and battery failure.

Of them, brake binding, which means non-releasing of the brake when a train is ready to leave a station and leads to smoke emission from the undercarriage, is so common that every single Metro commuter has heard of this at least once.

There is another issue that is bothering the commuters ~ leaking of water from AC vents inside the coaches. “Water simply dribbles down the AC vents, sometimes even making it impossible to stand or sit in some parts of the trains. I have witnessed the trouble intensify on humid days,” said Mr Anup Baroi who takes the Metro everyday from Dum Dum to reach central Kolkata.    Kolkata Metro AC rakeIn 2011, when snags in the AC rakes were more frequent, Metro authorities had summoned experts from Knorr-Bremse, Germany, in whose collaboration the Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory had manufactured the AC rakes. Knorr-Bremse experts on that occasion spent months at the Metro’s Noapara car-shed and succeeded to fix problems relating to the train doors.

They also imparted training to Metro officials on maintenance of the AC rakes, but after near three years it has now become apparent that either the maintenance job is not being done properly or the rakes have inherent maladies that keep on resurfacing.

A senior Metro official said that lack of resource ~ both financial and material ~ was an impediment for proper upkeep of the rakes. “Having said this, let it be clarified that snags in trains are not unusual; our target is to minimise it to the extent possible. Such snags are even common in Delhi Metro.” Delhi Metro rakeA Delhi Metro spokesperson however said that their rakes “barely report one snag in two months.” “The troubles that we encounter are mostly related to overhead electric (OHE) power supply and auto application of emergency brakes. We never ever had the problem of water leaking from AC vents inside coaches.”

Delhi Metro now has about 200 rakes manufactured by Bombardier (Canada) and Rotem (South Korea).

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This is an elaborate version of the report that first appeared in The Statesman on 4 August 2013 under a different headline.)

Rainwater leaks through Kolkata Metro station ceiling

By bappaditya paul

Barely three years of the station being opened, rainwater has started leaking through the ground-floor ceiling of Shahid Khudiram (Briji) Metro station in Kolkata, inconveniencing commuters and staff alike.

A bucket placed to tap leaking rainwater at Shahid Khudiram Metro station in Kolkata.
A bucket placed to tap leaking rainwater at Shahid Khudiram Metro station in Kolkata.

Today at noon, rainwater dribbled down through two places at the station’s ground floor ~ in front of the flap entry gates and near the station superintendent (SS) control room. Passengers had to bypass the area while making entry through the flap gates to avoid getting drenched. Metro staff placed a bucket  in front of the SS control room to stop the rainwater from spilling over the station’s central atrium.

The station staff said that this was not happening for the first time. “This has been happening for sometime now whenever it rains a little too heavy. It seems rainwater that accumulates on the viaduct and flows into the elevated track-bed is making its way through some porous zones. Earlier it was only in front of the SS control room where rainwater was dribbling down in small volume, but now the situation is getting worse and new areas are also being affected,” said a station staff unwilling to be named.

Shahid Khudiram Metro station, Briji, Garia, Kolkata
Shahid Khudiram Metro station, Briji, Garia, Kolkata

Contacted over the issue, Metro Railway’s chief engineer, Parasuram Singh, said that rainwater was probably seeping because of loosening of the seal put in place to cover the gap between girders within the station area or because of jamming of the “roof-gutters” that are meant for draining out rainwater. “Until now, the matter didn’t come to my notice. We will look into it and fix the problem at the earliest,” he said over the phone.

Shahid Khudiram Metro station is the last but one station located on Kolkata’s southern fringes, between Garia Bazar and Garia railway station, and was thrown open to passengers on 7 October 2010. The construction work for the Metro’s viaduct between Tollygunge and New Garia and also the stations, was outsourced to four private construction firms.

Kolkata Metro train
Kolkata Metro AC train

Apart from Shahid Khudiram station, leakage of water has been troubling commuters at Kavi Subhash Metro station as well. Water has been oozing at the entrance of the approach steps that leads to the sub-urban Up platform for sometime now but the authorities have been reluctant to fix the malady.

(The author is Senior Reporter, The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 14 June 2013.)