KOLKATA (Metro Rail News): The inadequate expansion of the Metro network in Kolkata over the last 35 years and its inability to keep up with the city’s burgeoning population have emerged as the key reasons for the daily struggle to get onto overcrowded Metro rakes, something that claimed a commuter’s life last Saturday.
Kolkata Metro started its journey in 1984 with a service that ran for 3.4km; three-and-a-half decades later, it continues to run in a straight line, for 27.2km.
The population, however, has grown by almost half-a-crore. The 1981 Census showed 91.9 lakh people stayed in the urban conglomerate comprising Kolkata and its neighboring areas, the latest pegged the urban conglomerate’s population at 1.4 crores.
The numbers seem even more inadequate when the load that an average Kolkata Metro rake bears is compared with the average passenger load of a Delhi Metro rake. Each service in Delhi carries an average of 1,110 people, whereas in Kolkata each service carries 2,465 people.
“All these numbers go to explain why Sajal Kanjilal — and lakhs of other commuters — continue to force their way on to overcrowded trains, ” a senior Metro Railway official said on Tuesday. “Many commuters may not be seeking to save time. They just feel that the next service maybe even more crowded,” he added.
What Delhi Metro has added since its first run in 2002 reinforces what Kolkata’s Metro has been denied. Delhi’s Red Line started with an 8.3-km run, in 2002, between Shahdara and Tis Hazari. Seventeen years later, it has eight color-coded lines running across 343 km. The tracks carry 2,700 services daily that, in turn, carry about 30 lakh commuters.
Kolkata’s single line laid out over 27.2 km, runs 284 services daily, which carry 7 lakh passengers daily. “So each Delhi Metro service carries an average of 1,111 people whereas, in Kolkata, each service carries 2,465 people,” another senior Metro official said, explaining the difference between Delhi and Kolkata and the latter’s crowd behavior. Officials also add that commuters should not expect things to change in a hurry on the north-south corridor.
Officials also say our Metro will never be able to run trains at below-four minute intervals because of technical reasons. And, even if it is feasible to run 350-400 services a day, at least 35 rakes in working order will be needed for that.