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Howrah-Amta BG line section inaugurated

Our Bureau

CALCUTTA, July 23

THE Union Railway Minister, Ms. Mamata Banerjee, on Saturday formally inaugurated the 6-km long Bargachia-Munshirhat broad gauge line section in the South Eastern Railway system.

This section, mainly to benefit the daily commuters, is a part of the much-awaited 73.5 km-long Howrah-Amta new BG line, including the Bargachia-Champadanga branch line. The entire stretch is expected to be completed by the end of 2001 or early 2002. The new line project is estimated to cost Rs. 124 crores.

The Minister announced a trial run for seven days, mainly on account of safety and security, and declared that two pairs of trains would be pressed into service between Howrah and Munshirhat (Mahendralal Nagar) from July 29. Currently, six pairs of EMU l ocals run between Howrah and Bargachia every day.

Unveiling the plaque signalling the formal commissioning of the Bargachia-Munshirhat BG section at the Mahendra Lal Nagar terminal station, the Minister complimented SER and its workforce for having completed the project four months ahead of schedule.

The Howrah-Amta new BG line project including the branch line was sanctioned way back in 74-75 at an initial cost of Rs. 32 crores. The first 24-km stretch of the section from Howrah to Bargachia was completed in 1984 by SER alongwith electrification, an d commissioned soon after.

Work on further construction beyond Bargachia was frozen by the Railway Board for more than a decade, and was revived in 1995-96, when the next block section (with two halts at Pantihal and Munshirhat) was sanctioned.

The original narrow gauge line, connecting Howrah and Calcutta to Amta (built in 1897), was part of the Martin Light Railway in British India. The NG line connecting Howrah to Amta, Champadanga and Seikhala, was terminated on the bank of the Damodar rive r on the north west side. After running for a number of years, the line was abandoned in 1971, as operations became unprofitable owing to various reasons.

Following persistent demands from commuters, a survey was conducted by the Indian Railways. The report suggested abandonment of the NG line, considering the traffic projections, and instead favoured the construction of a new BG line.

Calling for early completion of the 78-km Tamluk-Digha link project, the Minister assured that funds would not be a problem at any point of time. On the on-going upgradation of facilities at the Santragachi yard, and other stations in the Howrah-Kharagpu r section, she said work would be completed soon.

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