New track plan long-term

Das meets Prabhu, team coming today to discuss options

By Pheroze L. Vincent
  • Published 24.06.17
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Chief minister Raghubar Das with railway minister Suresh Prabhu in New Delhi on Friday (top), and the Dhanbad-Patherdih line that may be used to run some of the trains that were cancelled after the closure of the Dhanbad-Chandrapura line. Pictures by PRD, Gautam Dey

New Delhi, June 23: The railway ministry may be making frenetic contingency plans to restore the 19 trains cancelled after the closure of the Dhanbad-Chandrapura line, but sources in the ministry admit that alternatives being looked at were still on the drawing board and weren't expected to fructify in the immediate future.

Coinciding with chief minister Raghubar Das's revelation that a high-level railway team would be visiting Ranchi tomorrow after his meeting with minister Suresh Prabhu today, the railways issued a statement on the closure of the 34km line and the alternatives being pursued.

"Railway Board has decided that the infrastructure facilities at Gomoh railway station need to be enhanced and upgraded as bulk of the traffic will have to be moved via this station," the statement said, adding that in addition to the flyover sanctioned at Gomoh, there would be two rail on rail overbridges from Matari station.

Saying that the railways had decided to expedite the construction of the flyover networks at Gomoh, the statement added that the total cost of the Gomoh flyover and the two additional rail connections would be around Rs 500 crore.

The 34km Dhanbad-Chandrapura line was closed on June 15 on the recommendation of the Directorate General of Mines Safety that found a 14km stretch vulnerable to a cave-in because of the underground fire in Jharia.

The ministry's statement added that RITES had been asked to undertake a feasibility study for diverting tracks of only the affected portions of the Dhanbad-Chandrapura line.

The Dhanbad-Chandrapura line closure has led to protests, including one spearheaded by Babulal Marandi of JVM, as the tracks link Jharkhand to Bihar and Bengal. It is also Bihar's link to Odisha. As many as 19 popular trains have had to be cancelled and train diversions are forcing passengers bound for the Mithila and Kosi regions of Bihar to go all the way to Patna first.

Among the services cancelled are bi-weekly and tri-weekly trains, including the Dhanbad-Chandrapura Muri Passenger.

Seven express trains, including the Shatabdi, Maurya, Shaktipunj and Dhanbad-Alappuzha, have been diverted via the Dhanbad-Gomoh-Chandrapura line. Three other express trains, namely Patliputra, Dumka-Ranchi Intercity and Dhanbad-Ranchi Intercity, have been diverted via the Chittaranjan-Asansol-Joychandpahar line.

"The rail minister has agreed to send a special team to Ranchi tomorrow to examine alternatives to restart rail traffic as the public is facing serious difficulties," chief minister Das said today after his meeting with Prabhu.

A railway official explained that Das's statement referred to East Central Railway officials, from Bihar and Jharkhand, who were already in touch with the state.

He said that the rail-on-rail flyover plans, to divert Dhanbad-Chandrapura trains from the congested Dhanbad-Gomoh line, was ready on the drawing board.

"We have to go there and study the feasibility. Earlier, there was a plan of putting more lines between Dhanbad and Gomoh. That was shelved. This is a hundred-year-old fire and the railways can't be expected to come up with an instant solution to solve the transport problems caused by the fire," he said, indicating how challenging the task was and that the plans being looked at were purely long-term in nature.

With inputs from Praduman Choubey in Dhanbad