The Railways on Monday firmed up plans for alternative movement of passenger trains that will stop plying on the nearly 41-km Dhanbad-Chandrapura line in Jharkhand from June 15. The stretch has been declared unsafe for train movement due to fires in multiple coal mines in Jharia. According to railway officials, at least seven trains will be diverted to two different routes, while six trains would remain cancelled. Another 13 pairs of trains too would be cancelled. Thus, out of 26 pairs of trains, only seven would continue to ply.
Divisional Railway Manager M K Akhouri said: “Trains like Howrah-Ranchi Shatabdi Express would be diverted towards Gomoh, while the Dhanbad-Ranchi Intercity Express would be diverted via Bokaro, Bhojudih and Asansol. The change in time and distance is being assessed.” Besides the Shatabdi Express, Ranchi-Gorakhpur Maurya Express, Dhanbad-Alapuzzha Express and Howrah-Jabalpur Shaktipunj Express would be diverted via Gomoh.
Similarly, besides Dhanbad-Ranchi Intercity Express, Ranchi-Patna Patliputra Express and Dumka-Ranchi Intercity Express would be diverted via Bhojudih and Asansol. Of the 13 pairs of trains that have been cancelled, only Ranchi-Bhagalpur Vananchal Express is a daily train. “The others ply once, twice or thrice a week,” said Akhouri. On Tuesday, the railways will start announcements at all affected stations about trains that will stop plying. “We are trying to make people aware; otherwise, the switch would be difficult.”
Meanwhile, the district administration and railways have held meetings to assess the passenger load that would require transport by road once the trains stop plying. There are 13-odd stations between Dhanbad and Chandrapura.
Opposition parties have hit out at the decision, accusing government agencies like the BCCL and the Directorate General of Mines Safety for neglect over the years. BJP MP from Dhanbad Pashupati Nath Singh, and MLAs Raj Sinha and Phool Chand Mandal met the DRM Monday and requested him to ensure minimum disruption. “There is little point in playing politics and insisting on keeping the line open. If an accident takes place, the situation would be horrible,” he said.