India’s First Underwater Metro: A Milestone in Kolkata’s East-West Corridor
In a historic moment for Kolkata, India’s first underwater metro has begun its trial run in the city’s East-West Corridor project. The underwater train is located below the river Hooghly and runs through a water tunnel that is 32 meters below water level. This significant milestone in Kolkata’s metro system is a testament to the city’s pioneering spirit and progress.
The Trial Run
On Wednesday, April 12th, the trail run of India’s first underwater metro, stretching 4.8km from Howrah Maidan to Esplanade, was completed. The General Manager of Metro Rail, P Uday Kumar Reddy, and other senior officials of Metro Rail and the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation, took a ride from Mahakaran to Howrah Maidan station. According to Reddy, the trial runs between Howrah Maidan and Esplanade will last for the following seven months until regular services on this stretch start. On this length, it’s anticipated that commercial services will start this year.
The East-West Corridor Project
The East-West Corridor Project is an ambitious plan to connect Kolkata’s Sector V with Howrah Maidan on the other side of the Hooghly river. It’s a part of the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation’s plans to expand the city’s metro network. The project is being built at a cost of Rs 8,600 crore and is expected to revolutionize transportation in Kolkata.
The Key Portion of the Project
The key portion of the East-West Corridor Project is a 520-meter underwater tunnel, located in the 10.8 km long underground section. The underwater metro train has been compared to the Eurostar, which connects London and Paris. The commuters will move quickly through the water, covering roughly 500 meters in less than a minute. When completely operational, trains will travel through the river tunnels at 80 kph and take 6 minutes to get from Howrah Maidan to Esplanade.
The Tunnel Construction
In 2017, the tunnelling project under the Hooghly river bed was successfully finished by construction major Afcons. The underwater section consists of twin tunnels made of 1.4 m-wide concrete rings. The tunnels include hydrophilic gaskets to further prevent water from getting inside. Leading design firms like Atkins, Systra, and Tunnel Consult collaborated on the project. Tunnel boring machines (TBMs) made by Herrenknecht were ordered. In the event of even a small water intrusion, the TBM would shut down like a submarine. British safety regulations were observed.
The Future of the East-West Metro Line
Commercial services are anticipated to commence this year on the stretch, which will make Howrah Metro station the deepest in the country, located 33 meters underground. At present, about 9.1 km of the East-West Metro line from Salt Lake Sector V to Sealdah is operational. Services of East West Metro Railway started in phases with the first phase in February 2020 and the latest in July 2022. After the trial run, regular Metro service from Howrah Maidan to Saltlake Sector V will reduce traffic congestion and provide quick transportation to passengers.
Delays in the Project
The East-West Corridor Project has experienced a few delays over the years. The project’s foundation stone was placed in February 2009, and its completion date was set for October 2014. Realignment caused the work to stop from 2012 to 2015. Weak geology and a crowded topography caused many difficulties for the East-West Metro Corridor. On 31 August 2019, a tunnel boring equipment struck an aquifer, causing severe earth subsidence and the collapse
The Kolkata Metro authorities were quick to respond to the incident, evacuating the affected residents and providing them with temporary shelter. They also announced compensation packages for those who had been affected.
The mishap was a significant setback for the East-West Metro project, causing a delay of nearly two years. However, the authorities worked tirelessly to resolve the issue and ensure that the project was completed with the utmost safety.
The trial run of India’s first underwater Metro in Kolkata’s East-West Corridor is a significant milestone in the country’s transportation history. It demonstrates the country’s capability to develop and execute large-scale infrastructure projects with world-class technologies.
The underwater Metro project in Kolkata was plagued by many challenges and delays, but the authorities persevered and overcame them to make it a reality. The project’s successful completion is a testament to the determination and hard work of everyone involved.
The underwater Metro will provide a quick and convenient mode of transportation for Kolkata’s residents, reducing traffic congestion and improving connectivity. It will also serve as a model for other Indian cities to emulate in their efforts to enhance public transportation.
Overall, the underwater Metro in Kolkata is a testament to India’s growth and development, and it is sure to become a source of pride for the country.