West bengal has a well established transportation system that connects all parts of the state. This is partly responsible for the investment in the state. Though the present transportation system is substantial, it needs to be developed further to keep pace with the rapid increase in use.
The state of West Bengal is served by 92,023 km of roads within which, the National Highways cover a span of 2578 kms and State Highways 2,393 Km. The road density is 1.04 km per sq km, which is considerably higher than the national average of 0.75 km. Keeping in mind the need for speed and quality in connectivity and a vehicle population that is growing at over 11% per annum, the Government of West bengal has taken up an ambitious infrastructure renewal and expansion program.
Some ongoing Road projects in state are as follows :
- The North South Economic Order developed with the support of ADB at a cost of US$ 210 million with a view to link the southern ports of Haldia and Kolkata with the northern hinterland of the State.
- Dankuni – Kolaghat, Dankuni – Kharagpur National Highway project. Vivekananda Bridge which is an approach to NH2 has been completed.
- Four laning of NH41 from Kolkaghat to Haldia, NH31 passing through North Bengal, NH117 from Kona to Netaji Subhas Docks, NH35 from Barasat to Petrapole and NH31 from Kolkata to Dalkhola.
- The State Government has also taken up Eastern link Highway project (100km) connecting Barasat to Raichak.
- Some major stretches of the Golden Quadrilateral project undertaken by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) will pass through major North Bengal Districts.
- Entire stretch of roads connecting Bengal with the North Eastern States and Bihar has been strengthened and improved.
- Entire stretch of NH2 connecting Kolkata to New Delhi is being widened to 4 lanes. The Durgapur and Kona Expressways are fully operational and provide easier access to Kolkata from NH2.
The total railway route length is around 4,481 km. Kolkata is the headquarters of three zones of the Indian Railways — Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway and the Kolkata Metro which is the newly formed 17th Zone of the Indian Railways.The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) plies in the northern parts of the state. The Kolkata metro is the country’s first underground railway.The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, part of NFR, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Kolkata metro : The master plan prepared by them in 1971 envisaged a network of 97.50 km consisting of three North-South corridors of which three were selected for detailed planning. These three lines were Dumdum – Tollygunge, Bidhannager – Ramrajatala and Dakshineswar – Thakurpukur. Based on traffic studies, the Dumdum – Tollygunge corridor was first selected for implementation and work started on 29th December, 1972. On 24th October 1984,the first stretch, a length of about 3.4 km between Esplanade and Bhowanipur was completed, the first metro line in India. Over the years, others stretches on the corridor were gradually completed and some extensions were also made. This corridor was extended to New Garia as late as 2010. The people of Kolkata, enjoyed benefits of a modern metro system. It today carries about 5 lakh passengers a day.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway : The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is the first, and still the most outstanding example of a hill passenger Railway. Open in 1881, it applied bold and ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing and effect rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty. It is still fully operational and retains most of its original features intact. While Darjeeling was growing, Rowland Macdonald Stephenson was crusading his battle for railway extension in India. In 1849, he was able to extract favourable conditions including a guarantee of return on the capital. He promoted East Indian Railway Co. (EIR).
West Bengal railway in Budget 2017 : The total outlay for railway projects for West Bengal has actually gone by over 70% as compared to 2016-17. The 2017-18 outlay for West Bengal is Rs 6,336 crore as compared to Rs 3,820 crore in the previous year. A major chunk of this allocation will go for Metro Railway projects in Kolkata, some of which are nearing completion in a phase-wise manner.
Airways in West Bengal : Kolkata is well connected to the rest of India and all other prime locations of the world by the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport. Kolkata Airport had international traffic of approx. 1.2 million and domestic traffic of approx. 10 million . Currently, the Kolkata International Airport is being modernized with an investment of US$ 30 million, which includes the development of a new integrated cargo complex. There is another airport at Bagdogra, which links Siliguri with the important destinations within the country. The importance of Bagdogra airport has increased with Siliguri becoming the gateway to North Eastern States and a vital trade and logistics hub for the entire region. The State Government has set up a perishable goods cargo complex at Bagdogra airport. The State Government is actively engaged in making the existing airport at Cooch Behar fully operational with the help of the Airports Authority of India.
Some of the important airports in West Bengal are as follows :
Kolkata : Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport ( Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport is the only international airport in Kolkata. It is basically located in Dum Dum, about 17 km from the main township of Kolkata. The airport was earlier known as Dum Dum Airport, but was later renamed, in the honor of Subhas Chandra Bose. It was inaugurated in 1924 and since then, it has served as the international terminal for all the North-eastern states of India. The domestic terminal of the airport was started in 1990. This airport also caters to cargo services, along with passenger services. It also serves as a military enclave for Dum Dum Air Force Station.
Cooch Behar Airport
Bagdogra Airport is a domestic airport in Bagdogra city, which is about 14 km from the city of Siliguri. The airport had earlier served as a base for the Air Force of India. After the Air Force shifted its base to Hasimara, in the Dooars region of North Bengal, the airport was allowed to run domestic flights. Bagdogra Airport serves as an important base for those who desire to access the north eastern states of India. Regular flights from Delhi, Guwahati and Kolkata connect to this airport.
Asansol-Durgapur : Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport (India’s first Aerotropolis and first privately managed airport, located in Andal (a sub-div of Durgapur,Asansol) developed by Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Limited. West Bengal’s second largest airport.)
Waterways in West bengal : The Government of India has declared the entire stretch of Ganges between Haldia and Allahabad as National Waterway (NW1). The 560 km Haldia – Farakka stretch of NW1 in West Bengal will be developed as a part of the multi modal system for cargo tariff from Nepal, Bhutan, North Bengal & North Eastern States. The Transport Department, GoWB has initiated plans to reclaim the North Canal system, a 43 kms stretch of canal that stretches from the river Hooghly right across to the river Raimangal on the Bangladesh border. This was once the artery of trade which can restore trade links and lead to substantial economic development of the region.
The Kolkata Port Trust manages the Kolkata and the Haldia docks.There is passenger service to Port Blair on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and cargo ship service to ports in India and abroad, operated by the Shipping Corporation of India. Ferry is a principal mode of transport in the southern part of the state, especially in the Sundarbans area. Kolkata is the only city in India to have trams as a mode of transport and these are operated by the Calcutta Tramways Company.