|The decorated Ahmedpur-Katwa passenger on Sunday. Picture by Snehamoy Chakraborty
Bolpur, Jan. 13: Residents of two Bolpur villages today organised a unique farewell for a passenger train that will run for the last time tomorrow after which its 96-year-old narrow-gauge tracks will be replaced by broad gauge.
Work to broad gauge the 96-year-old Ahmedpur-Katwa line will start tomorrow. So, the villages of Labhpur and Kirnahar today saw old-timers and youths alike organise events to bid goodbye to the train that ran on the 53-km narrow-gauge stretch.
“We have shared the history of this narrow-gauge rail line. It is associated with author Tarashankar Bandopadhyay, who hailed from Labhpur. Tarashankar had mentioned the train service on this line in his novels,” said Ujwal Mukherjee, the secretary of Labhpur Sanskriti Bahini who has been commuting to Ahmedpur for the past decade.
According to a senior railway official, the Ahmedpur-Katwa railway line was built and operated by McLeod’s Light Railways. Train services, he added, were opened on September 29, 1917.
“The Ahmedpur-Katwa passenger (one of the two trains currently on the line) will make its last journey tomorrow at 5.50am,” the official rued.
Today, when the train arrived at Labhpur in the evening, the villagers decorated it with garlands and pasted posters.
“I bid you farewell with a heavy heart, yet we are happy because you will arrive again in a new shape. You will be in our memory, good bye, good bye,” one of the posters said.
Sweets and flowers were distributed to the two train drivers, the guard and the passengers.
Villagers in Kirnahar also organised cultural programmes and distributed sweets.
People recounted their days of commuting on the narrow-gauge line.
“I have been commuting to Ahmedpur for the last 35 years. We will be missing this train. Those were the days of slow commuting when it used to take four hours everyday to my workplace. The broad gauge will help trains run faster but people like us will not forget the slow-running coaches and the jerks during the journey,” said Jane Alam, 65, a resident of Labhpur and compounder.
The foundation stone for the broad gauge was to be laid by junior railway minister Adhir Chowdhury tomorrow but the event was cancelled.