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43 more suburban trains

Commuting between Calcutta and its suburbs will become easier from July 1, with Eastern Railway starting 43 new local trains in the Howrah and Sealdah divisions.

“This is the highest number of local trains added in a financial year. It is being done to cope with the rush of passengers,” said N.K. Goel, the general manager of Eastern Railway on Wednesday.

In 2002-03, 24 trains were added to both divisions.

Of the 43, a dozen will operate in the morning and evening peak hours and 17 during the day. Sealdah division will get 27 trains, while Howrah will get 16.

According to a railway official, there is approximately a four per cent annual increase in the number of suburban passengers in the two divisions. Sealdah division currently handles about 12 lakh passengers while Howrah handles about 8 lakh. Eighty-seven per cent passengers take suburban trains.

The railway also announced 10 new long-distance trains from Sealdah, Calcutta terminal and other stations. The trains include the daily Sealdah-Murshidabad Hazarduari Express and the weekly Calcutta terminal-Haldibari Intercity Express.

Goel said conversion of nine-coach local trains to 12-coach ones would be over soon, further enhancing passenger-carrying capacity.

Eastern Railway has got four new rakes whose coaches would be added to the local trains for the conversion.

“The target date of completing extension work of platforms to accommodate the 12-coach trains is December 31, 2009,” said the general manager.

Regarding the low passenger load on the Calcutta-Dhaka train, Goel said delay in immigration and customs clearance at Gede and Darshana stations was an important factor.

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