Guwahati, Friday, January 01, 2010
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LETTERS

Train service in North East
 Sir, – After taking charge of the Railway Ministry for the second term, Mamata Banerjee has forgotten that there exists a piece of land beyond Bangladesh with about 35 million population, hundreds of rivers, rivulets, mountains and comprising seven States, including Assam. By the bank of mighty Brahmaputra, there lies a growing city – Guwahati, the hub of seven north-eastern States. East of Kolkata, Guwahati is the largest, busiest and most important city which is about 997 km away from Kolkata by rail route. Thousands of people of these states visit Kolkata and beyond for medical treatment, education or for pursuing job. Indian Railways should have taken special interest for this region because of its strategic sensitiveness, being flanked by Myanmar, Bangladesh, China and Bhutan.

The whole area is rich in petro products, natural gas, forest and river products. Perhaps the Railway Minister is not aware that only a couple of trains connect Kolkata and Guwahati and upper Assam– most of which are dilapidated, slow and inefficient. The oldest Kolkata-Guwahati-Dibrugarh train being Kamrup Express, which is anything but an express train, taking 24-26 hours to cover this 997 km distance. When most of the railway zones have much faster and smoother train services, this area lags far behind– in speed, punctuality or in quality of service. Kolkata-Guwahati distance should have been covered in 14-15 hours. Another fact she might have known that half a dozen trains run daily from North Bengal to Kolkata/Howrah. Ten pairs of daily fast trains connect not so conspicuous Malda and Kolkata. But between Guwahati and Dibrugarh only 3-4 trains are being run by the NF Railways. Considering the demand, importance and necessity, the Railways should come forward to run half a dozen additional trains from Tinsukia, Dibrugarh to Guwahati and Kolkata. The NF Railways could have started Shatabdi express between Dibrugarh and Guwahati and from Guwahati to Kolkata. Where is the snag? Improvement of rail tracks should be done on priority basis. Alternative rail line from New Jalpaiguri to Guwahati is essential to ease the traffic congestion. Superfast trains to Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai should be introduced.

The quality of boggies of trains of this sector is not upto the mark. Dilapidated boggies are invariably allocated even for AC coaches.

It is for the Railway Minister to improve the quality of Railway Service in Assam and whole of North East. Without political will and nod from the Minister the Railway service in this region will never be at par with other parts of the country. The Railway Minister should ponder over this matter and take urgent action. – Yours etc., R N Chakravarty, Danish Road, Panbazar, Guwahati.