Calcutta, Nov. 21: Getaways to Digha will be easier by the end of next year, if the railway minister is to believed.
The Union railway ministry is determined to complete the construction of the 32-km track between Kanthi and Digha next year in a bid to boost tourism and the earnings of the South-Eastern Railway.
“We are planning to complete the Kanthi-Digha project in the next calendar year,” minister Nitish Kumar said yesterday after inaugurating the Tamluk-Kanthi rail route.
The plan, he said, is to commission the line before the pujas, but uncertain monsoon could delay the project. “By any means, we will complete the project by the end of 2004,” Kumar added.
Authorities feel the rail route, once built, will boost state tourism and become a major source of revenue for the railways.
Kumar indicated as much when he said: “Every day 2,500 buses from Kanthi, Egra and Tamluk take passengers to Digha. A huge number of them would be using the rail route (once it is in place).”
He added that Digha was a major tourist attraction and the train services between Tamluk and Digha, once commissioned, would also prove financially viable for the South-Eastern Railway.
The railway’s officials said they were expecting at least 6,000 passengers every day on the route. “That is the minimum we are expecting,” a South-Eastern Railway spokesman said.
Carriage of freight, too, would increase, he said, as “the rail route will cater to the large fish market at Shankarpur, the twin beach of Digha”.
Yesterday, Kumar flagged off the inaugural DMU train from Tamluk to Kanthi. For now, only a pair of trains will ply in the section that has five stations, including the two terminals. The trains will leave Tamluk in the morning and reach Kanthi at 11.30. It will leave Kanthi at 12 noon.
Kumar, who also laid the foundation of the electrification of the Tamluk-Digha section yesterday, said once EMU coaches are introduced, the number of tourists from Calcutta would increase several times.