PM Narendra Modi Launches India’s 1st Underwater Metro: Kolkata Metro’s 520m Route 13m Below, 40s Ride

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the nation’s first underwater metro in Kolkata on Wednesday. This metro runs on tracks built 33 meters below ground and 13 meters beneath the surface of the Hooghly River. Kolkata saw its first metro train run in 1984 on the North-South corridor (Blue Line). Now, after 40 years, the country’s first underwater metro rail will operate from Howrah Station to Mahakaran Station.

To achieve this, a 520-meter-long tunnel has been constructed from Howrah to Mahakaran Station, accommodating two tracks. The metro train will traverse this tunnel at a rapid pace of 80 kilometers per hour, covering the distance in just 45 seconds. This development is expected to significantly improve connectivity between Howrah and Kolkata, simplifying the commute for 7 to 10 million passengers daily.

Kolkata’s First Underwater Metro: A Landmark in Connectivity

Kolkata, known for its rich cultural heritage, is about to witness a significant milestone with the inauguration of the country’s first underwater metro. The city’s first metro train journey dates back to 1984, running along the North-South corridor (Blue Line). Now, after 40 years, Kolkata is set to embrace its first underwater metro rail, running 33 meters below ground and 13 meters beneath the banks of the Hooghly River.

To make this possible, a 520-meter-long tunnel has been constructed from Howrah Station to Mahakaran Station, accommodating two tracks. The metro train is designed to swiftly traverse this tunnel, covering the distance at a remarkable speed of 80 kilometers per hour in just 45 seconds. 

This monumental infrastructure project is poised to revolutionize connectivity between Howrah and Kolkata, simplifying the daily commute for an estimated 7 to 10 million passengers. As the underwater metro becomes operational, it symbolizes Kolkata’s commitment to innovation and progress in urban transportation.

Metro Rail GM P Uday Kumar Reddy traveled in this train between Mahakaran and Howrah Maidan in April 2023.

The Naming Tradition of Tunnel Boring Machines (TBM) by Afcons in Kolkata Metro

The director of project and planning at Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation, Syed Mohammad, revealed that in 2010, the contract for building the tunnel was awarded to Afcons. Afcons acquired Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) from the German company Herrenknecht. Interestingly, the TBMs were named after the daughters of Afcons employees, serving as both inspiration and dedication for the project.

This project faced two major challenges. Firstly, selecting suitable soil for excavation and secondly, ensuring the safety of TBMs. In Kolkata, various types of soil are found every 50 meters. It took 5-6 months to identify suitable locations for tunnel construction through soil surveys. Following 3-4 surveys, it was decided that a tunnel could be constructed 13 meters below the ground near the Howrah Bridge, crossing the bed of the Hooghly River.

The track is built in twin tunnels 520 meters under the Hooghly River.

The World’s Deepest Metro: Exploring Kolkata’s Underground Stations

The East-West Corridor (Green Line) of Kolkata’s metro system boasts some of the deepest underground stations globally. Among them, the stretch from Howrah Maidan to Esplanade spans a distance of 4.8 kilometers. This segment encompasses four underground stations: Howrah Maidan, Howrah Station, Mahakaran, and Esplanade. Notably, Howrah Station is situated 30 meters below ground level, making it the deepest metro station in the world. Currently, the concept of underwater metro routes is exclusive to cities like London and Paris.

This picture was taken during the construction of the underwater tunnel.

Progress and Challenges of Underwater Tunneling

The underwater tunneling project commenced in 2017, with the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) initiating the construction of the tunnel beneath the Hooghly River. The excavation under the Hooghly was initially projected to be completed within 125 days but was successfully finished in just 67 days. However, on September 1, 2019, when the TBM named Chandi Sialdaha was approximately halfway through its journey, it encountered a substantial boulder, causing an abrupt halt.

This incident led to significant seepage in the tunnel, causing substantial soil displacement and damaging many nearby structures, forcing numerous families to relocate to hotels. Legal proceedings ensued, and work was suspended. After a few months without further incidents, work resumed in February 2020.

On March 1, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met at Raj Bhavan in Kolkata.

PM Modi Visits West Bengal on March 1-2

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited West Bengal for a two-day trip on March 1 and 2. During this visit, he addressed public gatherings in Hooghly and Nadia districts. PM Modi remarked on the situation in Bengal, stating that there are instances where the police decide when to surrender and when to arrest criminals.

He emphasized that the state government does not want the arrest of those involved in acts of violence, but the women power of Bengal, symbolized by Durga, remains resilient. Every BJP worker stood with them, and then it became the responsibility of the government to bow down to them.

Niyati Rao

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