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Kolkata got a whopping gift of a new mass rapid transport system just the day before Valentine’s Day with the launch of the first phase of the East West Metro line. The service has been opened for the public from February 14. Trains run along an elevated route of almost 5 km between Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (Salt Lake Stadium) and the IT and business hub Salt Lake Sector V, on the eastern fringe of the city.
Kolkata was the first city in India to implement the underground metro railway which began operating in 1984. Later on, the tracks were extended along the north-south axis of the city, with a section of the tracks going over ground at an elevated level. The distance covered between the terminal stations – Kavi Subhas (New Garia) in the south and Noapara in the north – is a little over 27km, with almost 16km running under ground. There are 24 stations on this route.
Subsequently, a second corridor was planned along the east-west axis, connecting Salt Lake Sector V (on the eastern fringe of the city) to Howrah Maidan (across the Hooghly River to the west of the city). A part of the line runs below the river.
There are six elevated stations on this newly opened route – Salt Lake Stadium, Bengal Chemical, City Centre, Central Park, Karunamoyee and Sector V. Each train (fully air conditioned) will take 14 minutes to cover the stretch one way. The train service will be available between 8am and 8pm for now, with a gap of 20 minutes. The fare has been fixed at rupees five for the first two kilometres. The maximum price of a ticket is Rs 10. The best part is that the Smart Card issued by the Kolkata (north south) Metro will be valid on this route too, according to officials.
While procedural delays have affected the speedy completion of the project, Phase One of the East West corridor is expected to partly reduce the commuting woes of travellers. Karunamoyee is an important transport hub for the area with buses from various parts of Kolkata arriving here. People going to Sector V on business, sports lovers going to the stadium or people going for shopping in City Centre mall will benefit with the introduction of this route. Travellers booking into the hotels in and around Salt Lake will also find it convenient to commute within the area.
The East West Metro has been made more passenger friendly compared to its predecessor with special screen doors at stations to avoid accidents, ticket vending machines at stations, display boards and CC cameras inside the compartment, microphones to contact the driver in case of an emergency on board, etc.
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