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Subsidence blocks Assam train

Cooch Behar, July 1: The only train between Tufanganj and Assam’s Dhubri has been suspended till further notice because of subsidence of earth beneath the tracks in at least 25 spots on a 90km stretch after heavy rains.

Northeast Frontier Railway has started repairs but officials said it would take some more time before train services resumed on the route.

“Because of excessive rainfall in the past couple of weeks, the earth beneath and beside the tracks has become soft and it has caved in at many places. This has led to suspension of train services on the route. We have started repairs on war footing and expect the services to resume shortly,” said Anirban Dutta, the divisional railway manager of Alipurduar.

Railway sources added that a parallel track to Assam through Mainaguri in Jalpaiguri district and Jogighopa in Assam, was under construction.

“Out of the entire route the tracks have been laid down from Tufanganj to Dhubri with four stations in between. The work was finished in 2010,” a railway source said.

He added that work between Cooch Behar and Mainaguri was yet to be completed.

“Last year, Mamata Banerjee, who was the railway minister then, had introduced train services on the route connecting Bengal and Assam and bringing Tufanganj on the Indian rail map,” he added.

Since then, a passenger train from New Jalpaiguri via Dooars goes to Cooch Behar everyday.

From Cooch Behar the train takes the Tufanganj-Dhubri route.

The train returns from Dhubri on the same day and reaches NJP at night.

“Although only one train plies on the stretch, it is immensely beneficial for us because we can reach Dhubri, Cooch Behar or NJP in one day. Now that the service have been stalled, we have to depend on buses,” said Niladri Burman, a resident of Tufanganj.

“It is unlikely that train services would resume before a month,” he added.

Although it takes roughly the same time, around five hours, to reach Dhubri from Cooch Behar on a bus, the fare is almost triple of what one has to pay for a train journey.

“Travelling by road means excess expenditure for the poor people,” said Ratikanta Das, a shopkeeper from Cooch Behar. “We are eagerly waiting for the train services to start on the route.”

Rabindranath Ghosh, the MLA of Natabari in Tufanganj, said: “We have visited the affected sites. We have asked the DRM to expedite the process and resume train services at the earliest.”