Here is good news for people in Bagdogra and its adjoining areas in Siliguri, who had to go to the New Jalpaiguri Railway station to board Kolkata and Delhibound trains. They can now board four trains, including the Kanchenkanya, Capital Express and Mahanada Express, from the Bagdogra Railway Station and even get down there.

However, the same will come into effect after all railway services are restored after the Covid-19 pandemic is over, officials have said. The Indian Railway Board approved diversion of routes of those trains on 20 July, following a proposal sent by Darjeeling MP Raju Bista. The route of those trains was from NJP to Katihar via Rangapani.

The trains, which come from Alipurduar and Kamaksha, will run from NJP via Bagdogra to Katihar. “I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Vinod Kumar Yadav, Chairman, Railway Board, for kindly taking cognizance of my request to include Bagdogra and Thakurganj as stoppages for trains that are headed to destinations like Kolkata, Patna and Delhi,” Mr Bista said in a statement yesterday.

“I had to make Piyush Goyal aware of the trouble people from Bagdogra and surrounding areas like Shivamandir, Naxalbari, Phansidewa, Bidhannagar and also Thakurganj had to face, as they were forced to travel all the way to NJP to board their trains. I explained to the Railway Minister that it not only caused unnecessary rush at NJP, but added to the pollution in the region,” Mr Bista added.

On the other hand, Indian Railways has said it has focused on freight revenue to meet the shortfall due to suspension of almost all passenger train services because of the pandemic.

According to the Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), Subhanan Chanda, the Railways has geared up to meet the challenging situation thrown up by the pandemic, which resulted in suspension of almost all passenger train services causing a drastic fall in revenue.

“While various measures to restrict expenditure have been put in place, it has now become clear that Indian Railways has to focus on freight revenue to meet the shortfall,” he said today.

“One of the steps taken to enhance goods traffic and the revenue from carrying goods is to rationalise and bring down freight fare rate for the industry to match best international benchmarks. Along with reducing charges for carrying goods, railways is also planning multi-modal integration, whereby river transport, road transport and railway transport can be integrated into a single transportation service. This will result in achieving economic efficiency and environmental benefits,” Mr Chanda said in a release.

NFR officials claimed that the Indian Railways has already increased speed of its goods trains significantly during the last four months. The average speed of goods trains has increased by 66 percent in comparison to last year.