While this bit of news will cheer you, the planners are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping that the imbroglio over extension beyond Sealdah to Mahakaran is resolved by then. It will help them continue laying tracks, as and when the link progresses, without taking a break. Track-laying is considered the start of the final stage in any railway project.
It is interesting that the EW corridor has ended up being a Metro Railway project. Several years ago, when it was first planned, Metro was urged to take up construction. Metro agreed but on one condition: the tracks would have to be broad gauge. Engineers associated with the project refused and insisted on standard gauge. The Metro opted out but ultimately the project came its way. Metro had insisted on broad gauge tracks because they planned an interface between the east-west and north-south lines at Central station. The north-south corridor had been built with such a provision in mind.
“As the EW corridor will have standard gauge, an interface will make no sense. Ideally, the main station in the EW network should be at Esplanade, where there is sufficient space. It will also benefit commuters who can travel from Sector V to Esplanade and then take another train towards south Kolkata. The station building at Esplanade can also be a landmark and ease a lot of existing problems in the heart of Kolkata. It is no longer advisable to consider a station on Brabourne Road as any construction there will result in subsidence. The best option is to take the line to Mahakaran station and then towards the Hooghly,” an engineer said.
According to him, the station at Esplanade can be a multi-storied structure with parking lots and commercial establishments on top. Parking is a major problem in Esplanade and the commercial space can be commercially exploited, making the project more viable.
“When any underground structure is built, engineers have to contend with buoyancy. The underground water tries to push up the structure. To counter this, a lot of load can be added on the underground structure. Even a multi-storied structure over the Metro station at the existing tram depot near Curzon Park won’t cause any problem,” said an official. Rather it would create some much needed vertical space, he added. This is what officials would discuss with those from the defence ministry when putting forward their case for a station at Esplanade.