Kolkata: The Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) is reported to have commissioned a study to see if the East West Metro project could be extended to link the airport, even as the north-south metro would most likely not be linked to the airport.
The KMRC has asked government of India's infrastructure and engineering consulting company RITES to make out a detailed project report to effectively evaluate the probable expansion. Additionally, the agency that is funding the Metro project, the Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC) is also learnt to have agreed to fund the extension.
The decision by the KMRC comes in the light of a study commissioned by the transport department that has emphasized the implementation of a mass rapid transit System (MRTS) between the airport and the rest of the city.
Presently, the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport at Kolkata can handle six million passengers annually, through its two terminals. This capacity is set to increase manifold to 20 million as soon as the integrated airport building becomes operational.
Consequently, the number of private cars and taxis that visit the airport every day, currently at around 6,000, will also grow four times to 24,000 once the airport modernisation is completed. The resultant log jam can be avoided by the implementation of an effectively planned and executed MRTS, which will decongest the modernised airport and de-pressurise its passenger-dispersal system.
Most major cities globally have linked their airports through an efficient mass rapid transit system.
Sources say that the additional 6.5 kilometre track would cost an additional Rs800 crore, and that the KMRC would like to start work on the airport link simultaneously so that the EW-Metro benefits a larger volume of passengers once complete. The link is also expected to benefit a lot of passengers of low cost carriers who typically travel alone and do not carry much luggage.
Sources also say that the target date for completing the link is around 2010, along with the airport modernisation project, and around the time that the new airport terminal building becomes operational.
For the airport link the track would have to extend over the Kestopur canal to VIP Road, and would cover almost the entire length of the stretch before going underground near its junction with the road heading right towards the airport. The airport station could be integrated with the underground parking facility of the new terminal, say airport sources.
The state's transport department has drawn up plans for a four-lane flyover from Chitpore to the Lake Town-VIP Road crossing, and the existing Circular Railway connection between Dum Dum junction and the airport could well become part of the Metro route.
KMRC sources say that the survey would most likely be completed by next month, following which the feasibility of the project would be determined.