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Kolkata, Oct. 23

KOLKATA'S Metro Railway, in a bid to cope with the growth in passenger traffic, has recently added four additional pairs of trains in each direction (North-South).

The Metro had made its full Dum Dum-Tollygunge inaugural run on September 27, 1995, and on average now moves some 3.5 lakh passengers per week. An average of some 10,000 new passengers have been added from April this year in each direction, and the passenger traffic growth in 2004-05 over the previous year is put at around 11 per cent.

The railway expects an annual growth of over 35 per cent in the current fiscal.

At a recent workshop on `ndian Railways - The Road Ahead', organised by the Merchants Chamber of Commerce, the General Manager of Metro Railway, Kolkata, Mr P. Sudhakar, while making a presentation on "Kolkata Metro: Future Perfect" said that the passenger growth has gathered steam with the steps recently taken to integrate the system with bus links being provided outside the terminal stations of Tollygunge and Dum Dum by the State Government.

The highly subsidised system (Metro fares have not been revised in the last three years) with an operating ratio of 264 (meaning Rs 264 is spent on every Rs 100 earned) is also now planning to introduce a smart card in place of multi-ride tickets.

Mr Sudhakar said tests have been going for quite some time and the new facility would be introduced soon. According to the him bulk of the operating equipment including spares, motorcars etc were now procured indigenously, resulting in cost savings through import substitution.

Commenting on the progress of the Metro's Tollygunge-Garia extension of 8.5 kms, scheduled for completion by 2007, Mr Sudhakar said the entire work on the sub-structure has been completed.

The 8.5 route extension work, mostly on elevated structures (six stations in all, up to New Garia) has been divided into 5 engineering packages, and the work has been entrusted to five agencies.

The General Manager said the various contracts for the station work are now being tied up. The New Garia terminal on the southern end would have integrated facilities for onward connection with the existing Eastern Railway system.

Once Garia comes into the system, around one lakh new passengers may be added daily, by which time of course the train running frequency may be brought down to 7, 6 and 5 minutes eventually from the current 8 minutes (during peak hours), he pointed out.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 24, 2005)
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