The great Kolkata Metro ride

India’s first city to get metro services. More than three decades back. Calcutta boasted of being the only city in India to have the metro service,until a few years ago when Delhi joined the club. I have been living in the city for 5 years and so cannot comment on the state of services before 2005 but over the last five years i have seen how metro services have come spiraling down. For the last two years i have not been a daily metro passenger (and thank God for that), but the occasional rides proved to be nightmarish. So i would like to share with you all my experiences of the great Kolkata Metro ride🙂

When i came to Kolkata, i put up at my Pishi’s place in Jadavpur. My college was in Central Kolkata. “Commuting from south to central daily on a bus would be a harrowing experience, take the metro from Tollygunj” was the warning sounded by my Pishemoshai. And so i obliged. A 10 minute auto ride from 8B bus stand (which was an experience unto itself) would take me to Tollygunj metro station, where i would take the metro to Central. Later when i shifted to Triangular park the station changed. I boarded at Kalighat.

There was a specific pillar on the platform which i earmarked and used to wait there everyday for the metro(it was where the door of the second metro compartment used to open). Waiting there i used to enjoy the various ads, telefilms,songs they used to play on Incoda TV. I remember missing 3 trains one day for they were showing Rahman sir’s songs🙂

Barring the first year (when Bham used to miss college for his “WBJEE” preparations) we used to board the same metro. Whenever we started from home for the metro station we used to text each other and after reaching the metro station (he boarded from tollygunj) Bham used to text me the time when the train would start from there, accordingly i would board the train from Kalighat! I will never forget those ” 9.55AM first compart first door” sms’s🙂 And the return triip used to be equal fun. Linz, Uttam, Sumitash, Bham and me would walk together upto Central. Uttam used to take the Dumdum metro and us tollygunj. It was masti galore on the platform. We played hide and seek, Choyachuyi, commented on horrible fashion faux-pass, funny looking people and of course the lack of AC. Trains hardly ran on schedule (that never bothered us because we got more time to spend together).

The sanity of the metro authorities came under question when they decided to start ladies’ coaches! It was such a foolish decision. That trial week was nothing short of mayhem and chaos! Ladies compartments ran empty while there was no breathing space in general compartments. Within a week, authorities repealed their decision. To add to the woes, the Ac’s in the trains did not work, neither on the platform. Ticket punching machines refused to work, despite the presence of more than 5 ticket counters only 2 worked resulting in huge queues. These problems only aggravated of late.

After Ms. Bannerjee adorned the chair of Union Minister of railways she also added to the woes of the Kolkata Metro! Her predecessor had refused to give a go ahead to the Metro Extension project( Lalu always adopted a step motherly attitude towards Bengal and intentionally held up projects for this state’s benefit). People of Calcutta waited for their rightful turn. And when Mamata was given the mandate to fulfill our dreams (which 36 MP’s of CPIM could not do in five years) she was in a hurry to make her manifesto a reality. Her hurry cost Kolkata Metro her identity as a customer friendly carrier.

On August 24 2009 Mamata Bannerjee, Union Minister of Railways, inaugurated the extended metro track. There were no new rakes. Increased route length meant more passengers, but she did not have new trains. Result : Metro runs brimful, people suffocate inside and lack of AC makes their journey even more perilous. Long queues at ticket counters reach almost the roads, train schedule runs haywire! Almost all stations have malfunctioning ticket punching machines. Plus there are no fire fighting equipments at the new metro stations. The trains tend to slip backwards at an elevation on the tracks between Kudghat and Tollygunj stations.

The rate of suicides on metro tracks is on the increase. This has been a problem for Kolkata Metro since eternity. No solution seems to be emerging. Everyday metro commuters suffer because of suicide in some part of Kolkata. Even the security checks while entering the metro stations are a sham! They hardly check. And the police is clearly biased. they selectively harass the sections of religious minorities  who were signs that give away their religious beliefs.

Last year I was at Delhi for 2 months. The kind of arrangements there and the services really made me envious of Delhi Metro! Albeit Calcutta metro is 3 decades old. But had there been proper maintenance we could have beat Delhi hands down any day! And now that we have a friendly government at the center we can truly scale heights.

Wish our Railways Minister is listening. We need the zeal and the will to restore Kolkata metro to its original glory.

About Agnivo Niyogi

Typical Aantel, reader, blogger, news addict, opinionated. Digital media enthusiast. Didi fanboi. Joy Bangla!

Posted on June 1, 2010, in kolkata. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Subham Dasgupta

    haha..u made me nostalgic by those 9.55 or 10.03 1st compartment sms's. those were the days. whenever kalighat arrived, i used to strain my head from my seat to locate u…and after sometime, u wud peep ur head out of many heads "hellos!"😀 sometimes i wud arrange times with Linz too, but as usual, she hardly cud make it on time…the usual reply was "uf tui berie ja..amar deri hobe/maa derite khete dieche/ derite ghum theke uthechi". u mentioned about trains being late and us not minding that…but u didnt mention that we deliberately used to let go of boarding one or two trains, citing various reasons: uttam ekla theke jabe, so or train gele amra train dhorbo/ oma ki sundor gaan..dara na..porer traine uthbo/ uff ki bhir…porerta porerta (knowing very well je porertai same bhir thakbe)/ dara na..r hayto khela hobena..ektu lukochuri khele ni…. also we used to bitch so much about the suffocating ambiance at Central…with no ACs on (thankfully, it has been remedied now). i also remember commenting about various people with linz…I don’t remember whether u were there, but we laughed so much about a man wearing fluorescent mauve shirt…. I also remember once, when kalighat just arrived, and u were on the verge of unboarding the train…I opened my tiffin (maggie), and u decided not to unboard at ur destined station , but travelled all the way till tollygunj (eating my tiffin), unboarded there, bought a separate ticket and returned to kalighat again!!!2 misfacts. Metro trains are never AC. And trains don’t slide down just like that!!!!!And for people wishing to board a metro in office hours today, please carry an xtra pair of specs, and also, board the metro after having an energy drink. Ul need it. Metro is no more different from a local train…with less rakes, more schedule anomaly, more suicides. But im optimistic about our metro…hope things will improve soon. Bham.

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  2. Aditya Nandode

    Hmmmm………Pune is just contemplating on Metro/sky/something now, hope it fairs well, However Mumbai's Metro-AKA-Local trains though are not underground but are far older and best of lot- such a high frequency + high volume on it, people could hardly think of a chance of getting a seat! Do visit Mumbai for the shear experience of it.

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  3. Subham Dasgupta

    il keep commenting on our various habits and incidents during our metro travels. one such habit of ours was quarelling about from which position of the platform we wud board the metro. i preferred the second last compartment, as my exit tollygunj wud fall in front of it, whereas linz n u wud prefer the front, both of ur exits in rabindra sarovar and kalighat wud be near the front. so it wud be a plethora of negotiations..and ultimately we used to settle on a middle compartment😀

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  4. Ki r bolbo……the good old days!!! phew!

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  5. lost_scotoma

    Know what, I just had a hunch that you'll blog on Metro…and lo, here it is… coz i remember you tweeting about "yet another suicide in Metro". Good piece, again. Keep writing.

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  6. Abhishek Mukherjee

    Never been so much nostalgic reading a blog like this one. Thanx Agnivo for that. I used to commute by Metro few years back when I was in College, may be because we share the same College and same Metro corridor, I could not stop flowing memories which rejuvenated sweet and bitter incidents (or accidents). I used to travel with my special friend, but won't share it here, at least not in your comment section…but will definitely write about it. Thanx again for inspiring me……..

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  7. Prerna Munshi

    Liked the post! However, I am not a native of Kolkata,yet I have had the privilege of travelling in a Metro train & it's such a pity to see it in such dire conditions! Hope the government takes some remedial measures as soon as possible!Thanks for sharing it with us ! :):)

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  8. I have travelled a little on the metro, not enough times to be able to make dfinitive comments, but enough to state observations.I generally take the metro to get to Esplanade, Chandni Chowk or Rabindro Sadan(for Lenovo S center)I have always found something romantic about Metro. Like Coffee House. You know they overcharge and the food isn't that good, and the coffee is not much better than the average Nescafe variety, and far more expensive. Customer Service sucks. Still, it has charisma. I've been in Gurgaon, been on Delhi Metro. but it doesn't have the same charm. Its more comfortable, less crowded, has AC but KMR still has more charisma. THat's my view, apart from that I don't have much to add. They are overcrowded most of the times, Ticket Queues sometimes longer than those Sealdah station at peak hours. Security is a joke.

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  9. I have travelled a little on the metro, not enough times to be able to make dfinitive comments, but enough to state observations.I generally take the metro to get to Esplanade, Chandni Chowk or Rabindro Sadan(for Lenovo S center)I have always found something romantic about Metro. Like Coffee House. You know they overcharge and the food isn't that good, and the coffee is not much better than the average Nescafe variety, and far more expensive. Customer Service sucks. Still, it has charisma. I've been in Gurgaon, been on Delhi Metro. but it doesn't have the same charm. Its more comfortable, less crowded, has AC but KMR still has more charisma. THat's my view, apart from that I don't have much to add. They are overcrowded most of the times, Ticket Queues sometimes longer than those Sealdah station at peak hours. Security is a joke.

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  10. I had the privilege of travelling in Delhi Metro and it was an unique experience. As you envy that, I can understand the first Metro of the country. Any way I had a little imagination of Kolkatta Metro through this. I wish to come to Kolkatta once.

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