Sept. 28: A train route which was converted to broad gauge early this year to connect Siliguri Junction with Aluabari Road today served its purpose. It emerged as the sole route connecting the Northeast to the rest of the country, when fire engulfed the goods train carrying oil and disrupted service on the main route.
The single-track Aluabari Road-Thakurganj-Naxalbari-Bagdogra-Siliguri Junction route till today was used to run only a passenger train between Katihar in Bihar and New Jalpaiguri and the railbus from Bagdogra to Siliguri Junction.
“Since both the (Up and Down) tracks on the main route — Aluabari Road to NJP via Rangapani — were affected because of the fire, we diverted a number of trains through Siliguri Junction and could run them till their destinations, bypassing the site where the tankers caught fire,” said B.L. Patil, the Northeast Frontier Railway’s divisional railway manager in Katihar.
A number of trains got stranded at different stations. The NJP-bound Darjeeling Mail and Padatik Express, detained at Aluabari Road and Kishanganj, left the stations at 12 noon and 2pm respectively. The scheduled arrival time for the two trains at these stations was four-five hours earlier. The Alipurduar-bound Kanchankanya Express was delayed at Barsoi till 4pm.
“We had to reschedule the Calcutta-bound trains tonight. The Darjeeling Mail and Padatik Express will leave NJP at 10pm (instead of 8pm) and 11.30pm (instead of 9pm) respectively. Kanchankanya Express will leave Alipurduar at 8pm tonight,” Ujjwal Nag, the station manager of NJP, said.
The chief public relations officer of the NFR S. Hajong said a number of trains from the Northeast have been short terminated or cancelled. On the list of cancelled trains are the New Jalpaiguri-Malda Town passenger, Katihar-Siliguri Junction passenger, Balurghat-New Jalpaiguri Intercity Express and the Siliguri Junction-Katihar passenger. Trains that have been short terminated include the Cooch Behar-Malda Town passenger, which will run only till Barsoi.
The Danapur-Kamakhya Capital Express will short terminate at Katihar.
The Kamakhya-Danapur Capital Express scheduled to depart from Kamakhya on Friday will start from Katihar instead.
Engineers, who were present at the fire site, said it would take at least 24 hours to resume train movement through the usual track.
“The fire has melted tracks along 500 metre. Some parts have also bent because of the heat,” said S. Roy, a permanent way inspector of the NFR. “It would take at least 24 hours to remove the debris of the charred tankers, replace the twisted tracks and test it before allowing trains to run.”