17-year-old promise chugs in

The first train between Bhagalpur to Dumka in Jharkhand was flagged off at 10am today amid claps and cheers from commuters who have been waiting for it since 1999.

By Gautam Sarkar in Bhagalpur
  • Published 29.09.16

Bhagalpur, Sept. 28: The first train between Bhagalpur to Dumka in Jharkhand was flagged off at 10am today amid claps and cheers from commuters who have been waiting for it since 1999.

Then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had promised the people of the region and had laid the foundation stone for the new route way back in 1999. The route already had a train till Hansdiha in Jharkhand but it was extended till Dumka from today. The train was officially flagged off today afternoon at Hansdiha railway station.

The timings for the up and down trains will be 4am from Bhagalpur, which will reach Dumka at 8am, and the return trip will start at 9.15am from Dumka which will reach Bhagalpur at 1.38pm. The first train, however, started 6 hours late.

Bijay Hansdak, a native of Barapalashi in Jharkhand's Dumka district, who works with a private firm in Bhagalpur, was one among the people who heaved a sigh of relief and wholeheartedly thanked the railways.

Hansdak, along with other travellers, took the train between Bhagalpur and Dumka, a feat achieved after 69 years of Independence. Hansdak took leave from his Bhagalpur office to visit his native place in Dumka in the train.

"I was elated. To travel 116km from Bhagalpur to Dumka, a bus ticket costs Rs 110, but a train ticket costs Rs 30. Not only the price relief, the condition of Bhagalpur-Hansdiha road is so dilapidated that buses for Dumka and Deoghar from Bhagalpur are diverted to the Amarpur-Banka route, which takes an additional eight hours to reach Dumka/Deoghar. The train, on the other hand, takes 4 hours to Dumka. This is absolute respite," he said.

Raman Sinha, a senior teacher of history at Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University (TMBU), said the train to Dumka will strengthen cultural bonds between the neighbours and help boost trade.

Mohit Sinha, the divisional railway manager, Malda, under whose jurisdiction the Bhagalpur-Barapalashi stretch on the Bhagalpur-Rampurhat via Dumka new route falls, said around 3pm on Wednesday Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu gave the train the go-ahead for Dumka from the Rail Bhavan in New Delhi via video-conferencing.

Godda MP Nishi Kant Dubey flagged off the train at Hansdiha station for Dumka. Sinha said the train is the extension of the Bhagalpur-Hansdiha passenger trains and soon the railways will bring in more trains from Bhagalpur to Howrah via Dumka and Jasidih.

"This was made possible by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had promised the people of Dumka and other parts of the region of providing railway link. On June 5, 1999, the then Union minister for forest and environment in Atal's cabinet, Babu Lal Marandi, had laid the foundation stone for the extension of the Bhagalpur-Mandarhills line to Rampurhat via Dumka, along with two other projects for Jharkhand," Dubey said over the phone.

Dubey said the erstwhile East India Company in 1855-57 had decided to introduce railway network in Santhal Parganas, the home to indigenous primitive tribes.

"Their aim was to connect Bhagalpur, the then divisional headquarters under which the Santhal Parganas fall, with the railway network. But the famous Santhal Hool (insurgence) of 1855 deferred the British's plan," he said. The unfinished work of the British was completed today after 159 years.

A senior railway officer said the Kiul-Sahebganj via Bhagalpur loop section, the oldest route in the section, had to face heavy load but after the Bhagalpur route was attached with Rampurhat via Dumka and Jasidih, new avenues would be on the cards.

"The Jan Shatabdi from Bhagalpur to Howrah is on the cards," the officer said.