Railway Budget 2013: Hill trains including Darjeeling Himalyan Railway remain mostly untouched

Railway Budget 2013

Union Railway Budget, that was expected to pour fresh blood to the legendary Toy Train of Darjeeling and Sevok-Rangpo hill rail track along turbulent river Tista, rather poured water to the dream of Northern West Bengal and Sikkim.

Union Railway Budget, that was expected to pour fresh blood to the legendary Toy Train of Darjeeling and Sevok-Rangpo hill rail track along turbulent river Tista, rather poured water to the dream of Northern West Bengal and Sikkim.

“We are truly proud of this (World heritage status) and are committed to take measures to preserve them (Mountain rails) in good shape and health,” said the railway minister Mr. P K Bansal in his budget proposal.

But he did not come with anything specific for the revival of the shattered health of Darjeeling Himalyan Railway(DHR). Despite of its being a world heritage site, the railway is still a major loss making part of North East Frontier Railway, “It incurs a financial loss of around Rs 10 crore per annum,” informed NF railway officials.

After a decade of its being inscribed a world heritage site, mismanagement, financial loss, lack of social development and natural calamities etc put together has put the site into deep trouble. The Rail budget proposal did not come with any fresh proposal for financial back up to the ailing hilly track. “From the tourism point of view, we would be too happy if Railway Minister could propose some concrete development plan for DHR,” said Mr. T. Roy, Secretary of Eastern Himalayan Tour and Travel Operators Association.

Mr Bansal did not propose any fresh fund allocation for another ambitious hill Rail track to Sikkim.

The proposal for survey of Rangpo-Sikkim Broad Gauge rail route, as extension of proposed Sevoke-Rangpo route, was announced earlier. “This can bring great boost for entire Himalayan state Sikkim now dependent on its lifeline, geologically critical NH31A,” said Sikkim Chief Minister Mr. Pawan Chamling.

“The track could be a major facilitator for Sino Indian trade after Nathula Pass in Tibet border starts functioning full-fledged,” said Mr. P K Shah, Vice Chairman of CII North Bengal chapter.

The picturesque tiny Siliguri- Gailkhola, track that used to run in early 20th century was literally vanished beneath turbulent hilly river Tista in 3 devastating earthquakes during 1912- 1951. From surface level at Siliguri, the 40 km track used to climb up to a small station at Gailkhola, near Rangpo in Sikkim, along the west bank of Tista with lash green high hills in both sides.

Many technical experts however expressed their skeptical views over the rationality and techno economic possibility and viability of the broad gauge track instead of making it narrow gauge along the serpentine hilly and ecologically fragile terrain.
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