Indian Railways is working to revive the old Siliguri-Sealdah route via Bangladesh by 2021. While the line is likely to become operational with goods trains, officials do not rule out passenger trains later. If that does happen, it will cut travel time to Siliguri from to 11to seven hours.
According to railways, the route, that will be nearly 200km less than the 573km now, will see trains enter Bangladesh at the Petrapole-Benapole border and exit at the Chilahati-Haldibari border in north Bengal. Trains from Siliguri will pass through Chilahati, Domar, Toronbari, Nilfamari, Sayeedpur, Darshana, Parbatipur after crossing Haldibari and then reach Sealdah via the Benapole-Petrapole border.
The railways has already sanctioned Rs 11 crore for infrastructure development at Haldibari in addition to Rs 31 crore sanctioned earlier. The Bangladesh railway is said to have sanctioned Rs 80.17 crore to develop infrastructure, including fresh tracks along 7.5km on this section. “The aim is to finish work by 2021. Tracks are being laid to operate trains,” New Jalpaiguri ADRM Pratim Roy said .
Haldibari’s acting station master said of the 3.05km track that was to be laid from Haldibari station up to the zero point on the Indo-Bangla border, work on a 3km stretch had been completed. A flyover is being built and electric signalling being overhauled. Two 560m platforms are nearing completion. The old sleepers with the capacity to bear 60kg load are being replaced by those that can sustain up to 90kg load.
In March, a train engine from NJP opeated up to the Bangladesh border on the Haldibari-Chilahati route for the first time since the route was closed in 1965.
In 2011, India and Bangladesh had inked a pact during Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India for opening new rail links with Bangladesh for cultural exchange and various activities between the two countries.
Haldibari is the terminal station for trains like Haldibari-Kolkata Superfast Express, Teesta Torsha Express and Darjeeling Mail. Prior to 1965, trains would pass through Haldibari and enter Chilahati in the erstwhile East Pakistan through which it travelled to Kolkata.
Following the Indo-Pak war in 1965, this line was permanently shut down.
Source: Times of India