Kishanganj Trip Report
by Vikas Singh
August 24, 2006
Siliguri has one of the largest diesel sheds in the country holding 41 MG diesel locos. Besides these it is also responsible for POH of 20 MG diesels of Rangiya division. The Rangapara diesel shed of the Rangiya division is a trip shed. The POH for 120 BG shunting diesels of NFR is also done at the Siliguri shed. The other diesel shed in NFR is at Lumding catering to the diesels plying on the Lumding- Badarpur section.
On January 20, 1913 Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Extensions Company was registered to construct a line from Panchanai near Sukna to Kishanganj. This 92 kms long section was fully opened in 1915. In 1950 as a part of Assam Rail link project a new metre gauge line was laid from Siliguri to Kishanganj on a new alignment. This new alignment eliminated the Panchanai station and the total distance increased to 107 kms.
I was at the station at 0900 hrs waiting for the 652 Siliguri-Kathiar passenger to be shunted into the MG platform. There are three BG, two MG and one NG platform in Siliguri Junction. At 0945 hrs YDM4 6393 shunted the nine-coach rake of two SLRs and seven GS coaches. We left at 1005 hrs.
The first station was Matigara. After this station we crossed the Barahan river. After this we went under the BG line from Rangapani to Bagdogra. The runway of the Bagdogra airport almost ends near the station premises. The previous day commemorative steam run was till Bagdogra but unlike on the Siliguri-Rangtong section or Siliguri- Chalsa section both the stations on this MG had been left unattended. Apparently since no bigwig was to travel on this stretch, railways didn't deem it fit to clean up the station or even whitewash them. After Bagdogra the next few stations were Hatighisa, Naksalbari, Batasi and Adhikari. Till Hatighisa we passed through tea plantations and after that paddy fields took over. Most of the stations had abandoned cabins and other buildings. Called half stations by the locals there is no provision for selling of tickets. People buy tickets from manned stations like Naxalbari or Adhikari. Naxalbari is infamous in history as being the birthplace of dreaded naxalite movement. After Adhikari we reached Galgalia station. This station is very close to the Nepalese town of Bhadrapur from where local Nepalese ghee is bought illegally. The coaches were all crowded by now and passengers were carrying all sort of luggage - wood, paddy, ghee and even ducks! By now it has started raining. We stopped here for forty-five minutes for crossing with 5719 Kathiar-Siliguri intercity express. We finally left at 1230 hrs.
The next stations were Piprithan, Thakurganj, Taiabpur and Pothia. After Thakurganj we had crossed the Mahananda river. Pothia used to be a watering stop in the days of the steam. We reached Alubari road at 1345 hrs. The BG from Kishanganj to New Jalpaiguri runs parallel to MG till Kishanganj. At Alubari road the BG Mahanada express crossed us. Also on the MG loop line 651 Kathiar-Siliguri passenger was there. After Alubari road till Kishanganj there are three more stations-Gunjaria, Gaisal and Panjipara. We finally reached Kishanganj at 1440 hrs, forty minutes behind schedule and a distance of 107 kms covered in four and half hours!
Spent some time looking for some trace of the steam era. Except for a broken water column built by Pioneer Iron and Steel Corporation in 1959, no trace of steam could be found. We left Kishanganj for New Jalpaiguri by 5610 Avadh-Assam express. This BG distance of 85km was covered in ninety minutes.
I immediately rushed towards the NG platform, as 2D was ready to depart. We left at 1835 hrs. Near the old steam shed we stopped for want of line clear signal. This was necessary due to the diamond crossing with the BG line. After twenty-minute stop we got the signal and departed. We reached the Siliguri Town station at 1900 hrs. During the whole stretch the loco pilot had been blowing his horn as there are shops o both sides of the track and the train literally has to fight its way out. Many people waited till the last minute to clear from the track. At Siliguri town station, we could see the previous day BG heritage coach rake attached to YDM4. The rake is being moved to some other location. After Siliguri Town station we again stopped near the Mahananda bridge for want of signal. After ten-minute stop we started again reaching Siliguri Junction at 1925 hrs. The whole NG platform was brightly lit and looked great. The newly installed brass plates depicting major stations gleamed.
The 48th annual conference of NFR trade union is scheduled for 25th and 26th. As a result the entire station was plastered with posters and flags. Just a day ago railways had spent a fortune in sprucing up the station and these 'fools' had already started defacing it. Under Railways Act these guys can be punished but then who wants to pick up fight with the trade Unions. Luckily they had spared the NG platform from the publicity drive!