New Year hope for railway link

Come January and commuters' dependence on the dilapidated Gandhi Setu to reach north Bihar districts across the Ganga would be reduced.

By Amit Bhelari
  • Published 25.12.15
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The newly constructed Sonepur-Digha bridge. Picture by Ashok Sinha

Come January and commuters' dependence on the dilapidated Gandhi Setu to reach north Bihar districts across the Ganga would be reduced.

East Central Railway (ECR) has decided to run some trains on the newly built Sonepur-Digha bridge to connect north Bihar with Patna.

Last week, commissioner of railway safety P.K. Acharya inspected the bridge. He took stock of the approach railway track and signalling system on Palheja Junction-Parmanandpur-Sonepur stretch on the north of Ganga. "On January 5, he will make another inspection of the main bridge after which he would submit a report to the railway board. By second or third week of January, a few trains would start running on the 4.5km bridge," ECR chief public relations officer Arvind Kumar Rajak said.

As things stand now, Gandhi Setu is the only bridge connecting Patna with north Bihar and faces frequent snarls.

There is no rail service to north Bihar and if anyone wants to go to Siwan or Samastipur districts among others, they have to catch a train from Hajipur or take a circuitous route via Mokama.

The new trains would run from Patliputra Junction, formally made functional on December 16. Patliputra Junction has begun services with two trains - Patliputra-Chandigarh Express runs twice a week (Wednesday and Saturday at 8.30pm) and Patliputra-Yesvantpur Express once a week (every Friday at 8.15pm). From January, Patliputra-Sonepur and Patliputra-Barauni will start.

"As overhead wires would be completely installed by March, we would not be able to run express trains till then. However, we will start diesel engine train which can at least connect North Bihar. This will at least ease traffic on Gandhi Setu and residents can easily cross Gandhi Setu through the train service," Rajak said.

From March onwards Digha-Sonepur-Rail cum-road bridge will cater the trains going towards Seemanchal region.

"There are five trains in pipeline which will connect North Bihar including Seemanchal Express and Patliputra-Narkatiaganj Intercity," said Rajak.

Residents also expressed happiness over getting train service for North Bihar.

Rajnish Kumar, a resident of Rajiv Nagar said, "Train service towards North Bihar would be really beneficial for us because presently no train connects North Bihar from Patna. Now we do not need to cross the Gandhi Setu which is always problematic."

Crossing the river Gandhi would become easier once the state road construction department would install two pontoon bridges side by side. However, the installation of pontoon bridge would take time and before that Digha-Sonepur-rail-cum road bridge will become functional.