Kolkata metro: A British engineer's unrealised India underwater train
By Monideepa Banerjie
When commuters in the city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) step aboard India's first underwater train later this year, a Bengal-born British engineer who conceived an unrealised underground railway for the city over a century ago is unlikely to cross their minds.
Sir Harley Dalrymple-Hay envisioned an ambitious 10.6km (6.5 miles) underground railway with 10 stops and featuring a tunnel beneath the Hooghly river, to connect Kolkata with its twin city, Howrah. However, due to insufficient funding and doubts about the geological properties of the city's soil, this grand plan never materialised.
Eventually, in October 1984, Kolkata did become the first Indian city to get a metro railway. From just 3.4 km long and five stations, it is today a busy 26 station 31-km network, half of which runs underground. Now in December, the metro will open India's first underwater section that will cross the Hooghly.
The twin tunnels under the river are 520 metres long and part of a 4.8 km (2.98 mile) stretch of the metro rail connecting Kolkata and Howrah. It lies 52ft below the riverbed and, once open, is expected to serve more than 3,000 commuters every hour.