On Monday evening, Ashwani Lohani, chairman, Railway Board (CRB), boarded the Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express as a common First AC passenger after promising Kolkata residents Metro rides to and from Dakshineswar by the 2019 Pujas.
During the day, Lohani inspected several ongoing Metro project sites, including the stretch between Noapara and Dakshineswar. In fact, he started his inspection tour from Dakshineswar and went up to Ruby crossing which is part of the Kavi Subhash-Airport (via Rajarhat) stretch.
“Now that the last hurdle regarding encroachments has been cleared by the Kamarhati Municipality and work is progressing at a fast pace, the link up to Dakshineswar should be commissioned by September, 2019. This will enable people of Kolkata to use the services during the Pujas next year,” Lohani, who is keen on adding 50 more km to the Metro Railway’s existing network in the next three years, said.
After reviewing the progress of the Kavi Subhash-Airport link extensively, Lohani moved to Joka to check out progress of the construction of a car shed there for the Joka-BBD Bag project. Till date, Metro has only got about 70% of the land for the carshed but construction could not be started as the plots are disjointed. Officials of the Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd informed the CRB that work for the carshed, a vital component of the project, will start soon after the Kolkata Municipal Corporation hands over the remaining land there to the Metro. Officials told Lohani that the stretch between Joka and Majerhat could be completed in two years.
“The CRB held several meetings and also urged us to speak our minds and make suggestions for better services. He was also keen to know if we have any problems that can be solved through his intervention. He also assured all assistance in meeting targets and completion of projects,” an officer said.
Lohani, known for his austerity measures, insisted on travelling by train rather than fly. While in Kolkata, he also sought comments from officials on measures such as abolishing of the ‘bouquet culture’ in the railways. Lohani has also forbidden junior officers from ceremoniously waiting on their seniors and the pomp and show that used to be part of railway events in the past.