News at 9: India’s first underground train is part of the Kolkata metro

News at 9: India's first underground train is part of the Kolkata metro

Howrah-Kolkata metro through the Hooghly riverbed is likely to start from early 2023

A new link connecting the cities of Howrah and Kolkata is getting ready—a metro rail through the riverbed. It will be the first underwater metro in India and is expected to start operation in early 2023. The underwater rail will connect Howrah to BBD Bagh (Dalhousie Square) in Kolkata and is part of the East-West metro project (Howrah Maidan to Sector 5, Salt Lake, Kolkata) sanctioned in 2008. This corridor is particularly significant because it has stops near the two major railway stations of Howrah and Sealdah, Kolkata. The allocation for the partially functional East-West project is Rs1,100 crore.

As per the Kolkata Metro Rail Corportation (KMRC), the Howrah metro station will be the deepest metro station in the country, 33 metres under ground. The Hauz Khas metro station in New Delhi, with a depth of 29 metres, currently has this distinction. One has to descend 267 steps to reach the platform level, which will have 26 escalators, seven lifts and double-discharge facility (passengers can board or alight from both sides). The Hooghly river is 225 metres from the station.

The underwater tunnels—two of them—are 520m long. Special heat-proof train tracks have been brought from Austria. (For the entire East-West project, about 1,600 tonnes of rail tracks have been imported.) There is a ventilation and evacuation shaft along the centre of the tunnels. The 44-metre shaft opens on to Kolkata’s Strand Road and is reinforced using the sophisticated ‘New Austrian’ tunnelling method.

This is a one-of-a-kind underwater metro train which is built in India and is being compared to Eurostar which joins London and Paris.

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