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Rail survey on new port route

The railway has completed survey for a new route that will reduce the distance between the Calcutta and Haldia ports by 70km.

The Rs 2,738-crore Digha-Kulpi project, covering a 45km stretch, includes building a rail bridge over the Hooghly that would cost Rs 2,300 crore and linking East Midnapore and South 24-Parganas.

Under the project, new railway tracks will be laid from Mahishadal to Kukrahati in East Midnapore, covering 10km. Another 4km track will be laid between Raichak and Basuldanga in South 24-Parganas. The 1.2km bridge will connect the two tracks.

“The survey for the project has been completed and the proposal will be sent to the railway board for sanction soon after sorting out a few technicalities regarding the bridge’s span with the port authorities,” said the CPRO, South Eastern Railway, Saumitra Majumdar.

Mamata Banerjee, during her second tenure as the railway minister, had announced the project in her 2010-’11 budget.

Calcutta Port Trust (CPT) officials said the new route would improve connectivity and boost plans for setting up new deep-sea ports. “The new railway project will improve the performance of ports. Movement of cargo will be faster and there’ll be opportunities for new ports planned at Diamond Harbour and Shalukhali near Haldia,” said CPT chairman M.L. Meena.

Meena said the construction of new ports near the mouth of the Hooghly has become necessary to ensure a bright future for the Calcutta and Haldia ports, both of which had been suffering from financial losses because of low draught across the entire riverine channel.

“The new jetties will be used for mechanised handling of bulk cargoes such as iron ore, coal and liquid petroleum products,” said a CPT official.

The existing route taken by goods trains from Haldia to Budge Budge is 180km long and circuitous.

In the proposed route, a train from Haldia will go to Kukrahati and cross a bridge to reach Raichak. From there, it will go to Basuldanga, the station before Diamond Harbour, and then proceed to Budge Budge.

“It’ll also open a new and shorter route to Haldia for passenger trains,” said a railway official.

Officials said the design of the bridge was being finalised in accordance with the specifications laid down by the CPT.

“The height of the girder at the bottom of the bridge should not be less than 52 metres from the level of the river during high tide,” said an official.

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