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India’s First Underwater Metro Train Service Launched in Kolkata by PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated India’s pioneering underwater metro train service in Kolkata, ushering in a landmark achievement in the nation’s infrastructure and urban development. The service, which is a significant component of the Kolkata Metro’s East-West corridor, is designed to enhance connectivity between Howrah and Salt Lake, the twin cities of West Bengal’s capital.

The Howrah Maidan-Esplanade Section: A Technological Marvel

The underwater metro route is part of the extensive 16.6 km Howrah Maidan-Esplanade section, remarkable for its passage beneath the Hooghly River. The service includes three underground stations, with the metro expected to cover a 520-meter stretch under the river in just 45 seconds, showcasing impressive engineering and technological advancements.

The inauguration ceremony was graced by Bengal Governor Dr. CV Ananda Bose, Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, and other dignitaries, marking a celebratory moment for the project, which had previously conducted successful trial runs in April 2023. The presence of students from various schools on the inaugural metro journey added a vibrant touch to the historic occasion.

Engineering and Construction Highlights

Positioned 26 meters below the river’s surface, the tunnel allows trains to operate 16 meters beneath the riverbed, showcasing India’s first venture of metro trains traveling under a river. This initiative is set to significantly mitigate traffic congestion in Kolkata, offering a sustainable and efficient alternative to road transport.

The Ministry of Railways revealed that 10.8 kilometers of the East-West Metro route would be underground, complemented by 5.75 kilometers of elevated sections. This blend of subterranean and elevated paths is expected to drastically improve urban mobility in the city.

Project Insights and Future Developments

The Kolkata Metro’s ambitious project encountered delays, notably due to an accident during tunnelling work in Bowbazar, but has now achieved a significant milestone with the commencement of the underwater metro service. The Prime Minister is also slated to inaugurate additional metro sections in Kolkata, further expanding the city’s metro network and enhancing public transportation facilities.

The underwater metro project, initiated in 2009 with tunnelling under the Hooghly River starting in 2017, has faced challenges, including an aquifer burst and subsequent ground subsidence in Bowbazar. Despite these hurdles, the project’s completion marks a significant step forward in tackling traffic congestion and air pollution, paving the way for a greener and more connected Kolkata.

India’s first underwater metro | Key things to note

  • Kolkata Metro touched a milestone in April 2023, as its rakes completed a trial journey under the bed of river Hooghly through a tunnel 32 metres below water level for the first time in India.
  • The inauguration will take place on March 6, the passenger services will begin at a later date, informed CPRO Metro Railways Kaushik Mitra.
  • Spanning a 4.8-kilometer stretch between Howrah Maidan and Esplanade, this section forms a vital segment of the East-West Metro corridor, connecting key areas like the IT hub Salt Lake Sector V.
  • Of the total 16.6 kilometres of the East-West Metro, 10.8 kilometres consist of an underground corridor, including the groundbreaking tunnel beneath the Hooghly River.
  • The section of the metro, featuring six stations, three of which are underground, promises improved accessibility for commuters, catering to the city’s bustling areas strategically.
  • As a Metro train is expected to traverse a 520-metre stretch under the river in just 45 seconds, it not only offers speed but also ensures a seamless and time-efficient mode of transportation, further enhancing Kolkata’s connectivity and urban mobility.
  • This ambitious project not only addresses transportation needs but also tackles longstanding issues of traffic congestion and air pollution in Kolkata, promising a greener, more efficient urban environment.
  • The work for the East-West Metro corridor began in 2009 and the work for tunneling under River Hooghly began in 2017.
  • Completion of the project has suffered delays owing to an aquifer burst at Bowbazar in central Kolkata on August 31, 2019, leading to severe ground subsidence, the collapse of several buildings there and two more water leakage incidents at the same site in 2022 during tunnelling and construction work.
  • The Salt Lake Sector V to Sealdah stretch of the East-West Metro corridor is commercially operational at present.
  • The PM will also inaugurate in Kolkata the Kavi Subhash-Hemanta Mukhopadhyay and the Taratala-Majerhat Metro sections.

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