Kolkata: East-West Metro conducted the trial run on a 3km stretch between Central Park and Sector V on Wednesday. The line, connecting Sector V with the Salt Lake stadium, is expected to open in October, 34 years after Kolkata’s other Metro line and India’s first was thrown open to public in October, 1984.
According to the TOI people trooped to rooftops to catch the event on their phones as the rake chugged along the elevated tracks, at barely 5kmph. From inside the train, one could see people standing atop Bikash Bhavan, HSBC Building and the houses on either side of the viaduct. Even white-coated doctors and nurses were spotted on terraces of nursing homes.
On board, there were around 60 people, including officials and engineers from Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC), the implementing agency of the 16.5km project, and PSU Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML).
On the first day. the train covered three stations in three and a half hours, but engineers representing General Consultants, the experts involved in various Metro projects across the country, said the trial run was completed successfully. “The trial run is being operated to look out for any flaws in the tracks’ alignment and the third rail from which the trains will derive power,” KMRC director (projects) Manas Sarkar said.
The test run started at 3.46pm, but the rake braked after a few metres. It restarted at 4.10pm, only to stop again, yards from the carshed inside the Central Park depot. The train was shunted to the tracks by the electric bogey tractor since the third rail was charged away from the carshed for safety reasons during the trial run.
The switchover (from outsourced electricity to third rail) took some time, and the train started moving again around 4.40pm, stopping now and then, before it climbed the ramp at 22kmph, and on to the viaduct in front of the Central Park depot. The sleek locomotive then took a break at the Central Park station and finally started (without stops) for the terminal Sector V station around 5.15pm.
“I’m thrilled to be able to see the first East-West Metro train ply. Isn’t this going be Kolkata’s answer to Channel Tunnel?” gushed G C Dutta, a DD block resident. Anup K Kundu, KMRC director (rolling stock), added: “Being a Salt Lake resident myself, I know what it means to be on the Metro map, finally.”
Driver Dindayal, flown in from Bengaluru, grinned as TV reporters coaxed him for bytes. By 6.23pm, he had shifted out of Cabin 2 and taken position in Cabin 1 to steer the train back to the Central Park depot. He stopped here and there, sometimes picking speed as high as 20kmph, or coming to a complete halt, as engineers pointed out issues in the signaling system, or something as important.