A RANGE of development proposals for the Kolkata suburban network were outlined by India’s Railways Minister Ms Matama Banerjee on April 30, when she laid the foundation stone for a 5·8 km southern extension of the city’s Circular Railway. Rs860m has been allocated for the line from Princep Ghat to Majerhat, which will include three new stations serving former dockland areas being redeveloped by Calcutta Port Trust.

The 15 km Circular Railway diverges from the Eastern Railway’s Sealdah suburban network at Dum Dum, and runs along the Hooghly river waterfront. Electrification from Dum Dum to Tala was due to be completed last month, and Ms Banerjee confirmed that the wires will soon be extended to Princep Ghat.

She also announced the construction of a 3·8 km elevated branch from Dum Dum Cantonment station into Kolkata Airport, with one intermediate station at Jessore Road, to be worked by through trains from the Circular Railway. This is costed at Rs620m, compared to Rs11bn for a 7·5 km extension of the metro from Dum Dum. Although the branch will form part of the suburban network when it opens at the end of 2001, its construction is to be managed by the metro administration, in parallel with the metro extension from Tollyganj to Garia.

Ms Banerjee has also commissioned a detailed survey for a further extension of the Circular Railway from Majerhat to Thakurpukur. This 6·7 km route along Diamond Harbour Road was originally proposed as the southern end of Kolkata’s second metro line.

The government of Sindh has extended the deadline for financing the Karachi mass transit project by a further six months, to September 30. This is almost three years after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Lavalin-led Indus Mass Transit Corp. The city now wants to incorporate the recently-closed Circular Railway into the network.