Direct train line to Darjeeling to run after 50 years
Jafar Ahmed bdnews24.com
Published: 2017-03-26 14:58:26.0 BdST Updated: 2017-03-26 16:23:29.0 BdST
After five decades, a direct train line will reopen between Nilphamari’s Chilahati to the Indian city of Darjeeling in the Himalayan foothills.
Bangladesh Railway has taken the initiative to begin reconstruction on the defunct line between Chilahati to the Haldibarhi border in West Bengal’s Kuchbihar. The Indian government, in turn, will construct a new track between the border and Haldibari station.
The rail line from Chilahati to Haldibari was stopped during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War.
Once construction is complete, trains will run from Chilahati to Darjeeling via Siliguri.
Once the line is re-established it will be easier to import petroleum and stone from India, Bangladesh Railway Director General Amjad Hossain told bdnews24.com.
Businesses in both countries will gain greatly from the initiative, he added.
The railway has submitted a proposal for an approximately Tk 781 million project to build the 9.5 km new broad-gauge rail line from Chilahati to the Haldibari border.
The rail division hopes to begin work on the project this July, finish construction work within one-and-a-half years and have the rail line functional by 2019.
Md Nazrul Islam Sarkar, the joint head of the infrastructure division at the Planning Commission, told bdnews24.com the railway’s proposal has been returned to them for some corrections.
“Once the corrections are made a Project Evaluation Committee (PEC) will be convened and opinions on the project may be offered.”
Director General of Railways Amjad said the proposal would be submitted again once the corrections are made.
Before Partition, a direct train line rain to Darjeeling via Siliguri through the Chilahati-Haldibari corridor. At the time a Darjeeling mail train ran via Siliguri through Haldibari, Chilahati, Syedpur and Darsana to Kolkata.
According to a railway ministry report, a joint meeting between Bangladeshi and Indian rail officials in May 2015 led to a decision to reopen the line.
Several Indian media reports quote North-Eastern Rail Katihar Divisional Rail Manager Uma Shankar Singh as saying the Indian government had allocated Rs 400 million for renewed construction on the line and work to raise the Haldibari station to global standards.
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