KOLKATA, 19 February, 2009: The city's Light Rail Transit (LRT) system will cover a 40-km stretch from Joka to Barrackpore in two phases and have 31 stations. It will be ready in five years. The country's first LRT was launched by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Wednesday.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between Srei Infrastructure Finance Ltd and the government of West Bengal during the inauguration. The Rs 6,000-crore project will be implemented by a consortium led by Srei. Czech-based Amex International will be the technology partner and West Bengal Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (WBTIDC) will be one of the consortium partners.
"Work on the project will start from 2010. The coaches will move at 40 km per hour and a journey between Joka and Barrackpore will take 90 minutes. There will be four coaches per rake to accommodate 1,250 passengers. Initially, the system will cater to 1.2 lakh passengers a day. Later, the figure will go up to 4.8 lakh. The East-West Metro will terminate at Howrah Maidan. The E-W Metro and LRT will meet at Sealdah where passengers can make a changeover if they so want. Other Asian countries have already changed over to this mode of mass rapid transport. In Kolkata, the LRT can gradually replace buses and trams. People will have to realise that this is inevitable," Bhattacharjee said.
State transport secretary Sumantra Chowdhury said that the tendering process had started in Aug-Sep 2004. After the Centre refused to provide funds for the project from the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission, it was decided to launch a special purpose vehicle for the Kolkata LRT. "Srei will be the senior partner and it has entered into a joint venture with WBTIDC. The detailed project report (DPR) should be finalised by September 30, 2009. Hopefully, both the LRT and East-West Metro will be completed by 2013-14," Chowdhury said.