Kolkata: It has already started services from 10am on Sundays. Now the Metro Railway is planning to extend weekday services to 11pm. The matter came up for discussion on Monday during a meeting between senior officials of the Metro and Railway Board in Delhi. The proposal to extend services till 11pm was made by Minister of State of Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury recently.
“In Delhi, Metro services continue till 11pm. It should be the same in a city like Kolkata. I won’t promise anything but have asked the Metro authorities to consider the possibility,” Chowdhury had said.
According to a Metro official, the matter is under active consideration. While there are sufficient rakes at the moment to extend services by an hour, officials are facing trouble in convincing operating staff to stay back till after 11pm. Now, the Metro operates two shifts. If the timing is to be extended, overtime will have to be paid. This, added to normal operating costs, would work only if the services are patronized.
“Now, the last trains start from Kavi Subhas and Dum Dum at 9.45pm. Operations take much longer to wind up. The motormen can go off duty only around 11pm after completing the trips and parking the rakes
. Even the booking clerks and station staff have to wait till the last train passes. The booking clerks then have to check their balances with the number of tokens sold before calling it a day
. If the last trains are to start from either end at 10.45pm, they may have to stay till midnight. We are now trying to convince them,” the Metro official said.
According to him, even if the timing is extended, there are likely to be only four additional services, two from either end at 30-minute intervals. Given the situation in Kolkata, a late-night Metro is likely to be very popular. Late-night buses are few and far between. Most people who return from work late or spend evenings out with family or friends have to depend on taxis that either refuse or demand exorbitant fares.
“I get held up in office at times. On some of these days, I get lifts back home from my colleagues. When there is nobody going my way, I am at the mercy of unscrupulous cabbies. Men at the Shakespeare Sarani crossing flag down shuttle cars and before long the area is deserted. If the Metro were to run for an hour longer, it would be a blessing for people like us,” said Ankita Roy, an advertising professional.