Kolkata, April 14 (IANS) Adding a new chapter in India’s transport history, a tunnel boring machine (TBM) started off its arduous 520-metre journey under the Hooghly river here on Saturday for the next phase of the long-delayed East West Metro project.
It is the first time that a railway tunnel under a riverbed is being built in the country, according to officials of the Kolkata Metro Railway Corporation Ltd.
For success of the boring phase, a “Ganga Aarti” (worship) and a special ceremony was organised on the banks of the Hooghly.
Starting from Howrah Maidan, the TBM will dig through 30 metres below the water level till it hits the Armenian Ghat on the other side of the river in the next two months.
“Our intention is to progress with a steady regular pace of 11 metres per day and by doing this, we can ensure that all the parameters are followed and mining is done in a steady, controlled manner,” an official associated with the project said.
“We are expecting the first machine to be across the river by mid May and the second by the end of June. Probably by end of June, we will have both machines across the river,” the official said.
The 16.6-km long East West Metro project is now estimated to cost nearly Rs 9,000 crore, with its first phase — connecting the IT hub of Salt Lake Sector V with Phoolbagan — expected to be completed by June 2018.
The target date for completion of the second phase, connecting Phoolbagan with Howrah Maidan, is August 2019.
The Metro project — connecting two of the world’s busiest railway stations Sealdah and Howrah — was originally slated to be operational by 2012, but the deadline has got pushed back repeatedly due to land and other issues.
In line with the “Make In India” initiative of the central government, the tender for procurement of 84 coaches — 14 cars with six coaches in each — was awarded to the Bharat Earth Movers Ltd in February last year. It would cost Rs 900 crore.
The project has a total elevated portion of 5.8 km while the underground part covers 10.8 km.
The projected daily passenger load is seven lakh in 2020, 8.10 lakh in 2025 and nine lakh in 2035. The total number of stations is 12 — six elevated and six underground.