Jayanta Gupta |TNN, Mar 16, 2017, KOLKATA: Darjeeling Mail -the most prestigious train that connects Kolkata to north Bengal -is all set to follow a different route soon.
Instead of crossing the Vivekananda Bridge and passing Burdwan and Bolpur, the train will move through Barrackpore, Krishnagore and Murshidabad to Malda.This will not only shorten the distance between Sealdah and New Jalpaiguri and bring down travel time, the move will also decongest the busy stretch between Burdwan and Malda.
"The Murshidabad-Azimgunj link is expected to be commissioned by the end of December, 2017. There were problems with land acquisition but we have received tremendous help from the state government.Once this happens, we plan to run trains like Darjeeling Mail through Murshidabad.These trains will then pass through Azimgunj towards Malda, from where they will take the existing route to New Jalpaiguri," Eastern Railway (ER) general manager Ghanshyam Singh told TOI.
ER is yet to calculate how much time will be saved along the new route. Along the exis ting route, the distance between Sealdah and New Jalpaiguri is nearly 573 km. According to officials, the train's path will be shortened by nearly 21km once it passes through Murshidabad. According to Singh, travel time should come down by at least 30 minutes.
"However, that is not the most important thing. The existing route is extremely congested and we want to reduce the load. Secondly , we want people from Murshidabad and surrounding areas to benefit. Now, with no rail connectivity to Malda, they have to travel all the way to Sealdah if they wish to catch a train to north Bengal. Once this route is opened, they can directly travel to north Bengal and the northeastern states. This will also open up an alternate route to north Bengal," the GM added.
According to him, ER has embarked on a path of capacity enhancement. In 2016-17, tracks of 80 km length have been doubled and third lines will be commissioned along 27 km. An additional 100 km is approaching readiness. "We have also commissioned 194 km of electrification this year. This will further speed up operations and reduce diesel consumption. From August 2016 to February 2017, we have already saved Rs 25 crore," Singh added.