To move from one place to another is an inseparable part of modern city life. Indeed movement is the essence of business and livelihood, of growth and development, indeed of life itself. However, in the cities of today, with its teeming millions, the overflowing traffic, the uncertainty of travel duration, the prospect of travel is daunting. Travelling in a city is as problematic as it is necessary, as tiresome as it is inevitable. Achieving unhindered travel may seem utopian in the cities of today, but it is possible to make it significantly better. The aim of the East–West Metro corridor project is precisely to make travel in Kolkata a reliable and pleasurable experience.
Running through the heart of Kolkata, bridging two of the city’s most populous areas, the corridor has been planned to drastically cut down on travel cost and time. Normally, one would take at least an hour and a half and multiple modes of transport to travel between the extremities of the city at peak hours on a weekday. With the commissioning of the East –West Corridor, the commuters would find themselves reaching their destinations in air-conditioned comfort in a fraction of the time they take today and with unbelievable reliability.
An efficient connection between Howrah and Sealdah stations, which between them cater to about 24 lakh passengers a day, is a dream for every commuter for whom the daily trip into and out of the city at these two stations is a nightmare. The East – West Corridor will finally realize this dream.
And there is yet another advantage to the new metro that will cause the whole city to breath a giant sing of relief. No needless sprinting from the station to the bus-stop to the auto stand, lumbering from the auto stand to the share-taxi stand. The East-West Metro Corridor will provide the Kolkata commuter a seamless way to travel. A delightful prospect, isn’t it?
When one steps out of Howrah station and heads towards the city, one is faced with the daunting task of crossing the Howrah bridge. Any attempted to revive its long faded romance is a lost cause, but even that would be acceptable if peace and order ruled. However, teeming with every kind of vehicle possible, the bridge has become a dreaded prospect for every Kolkata – Howrah bound traveller. This is where the East – West metro comes in with an alternative which combines an almost dreamlike appeal with uncompromised efficiency – travelling more than a 10 storied building below the water surface for almost ½ kilometer across the Hooghly! The reinforced concrete segmental tunnel linings have a thickness of more than a quarter of a matre and are caulked with a composite gasket of neoprene and hydrophilic rubber to seal the tunnel from ingress of water. This marvel of modern technology is a resounding first in India as well as a rare venture world – wide.
Imagine the technological precision and expertise that is required for a project that makes it possible for us to travel under the Hooghly in a state-of the-art metro line. Through the startling scale of this project is self-evident, the Eurostar (connecting Paris and London) offers an apt analogy for the level of technology harnessed by KMRCL.
Recognizing the precarious situation of travel in Kolkata, KMRCL at the planning stage decided to adopt technologies to minimize discomfort to the citizens even if it meant substantial additional expenditure. The underground portion of the corridor has adopted the latest boring rocess, rather than the top – down cut and cover process (which citizens have experienced during the construction of the North – South metro) ,sparing the citizens inconvenience and traffic snarls to no end. And to bore the tunnels, “Earth Pressure Balance” Tunnel Boring Machines have been procured from abroad. The almost 2-story high boring machines will be able to bore upto 15 metres a day, excavating up to 500 m³ of earth a day …and life will go on as usual on the surface!