Tanakpur-Bageshwar rail line commercially not viable: Suresh Prabhu

Railway Ministry stalls Tanakpur-Bageshwar link project, owing to commercially non-viability of the project

New Delhi: “The Indian Railways is not in a position to construct a line between Tanakpur and Bageshwar via Ghat due to shortage of necessary funds. It is also not viable commercially,” Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said in reply to a question by Congress MP Mahendra Singh Mahra in the Rajya Sabha.The minister said the Railways had completed the survey work of the 155 km Tanakpur–Ghat–Bageshwar line and it was estimated to cost Rs 2,791 crore.“

Surveys on the line have not been completed and it is also not feasible from commercial point of view. Moreover, the Indian Railways is not in a position to provide funds for its construction,” said Prabhu.

Tanakpur-Bageshwar Rail lineOn a question about giving railway facilities to people of Champawat district, Prabhu said it was not possible to run a direct train from Delhi to Tanakpur as it was not feasible from operational point of view at present.

“The Railways is giving the broad gauge facility on the Delhi-Hapur-Mooradabad-Pilibhit and Bhojipura line and the work is already on to convert the Pilibhit to Tanakpur line to broad gauge from metre gauge. Several works in this direction are underway at present,” said the minister.

People in Kumaon, who have hoping that the Tanakpur-Bageshwar rail link would become a reality soon, are a disheartened lot after the railway ministry did not give the go ahead for the project. Their hope for rail connectivity in the region has become remote now.

State minister for railways Manoj Sinha, in a written response dated July 27 to a question of BJP MP Bhagat Singh Koshari, stated that the issue of Rishikesh- Karanprayag rail link has been taken up, but there is no sanction for the construction of Tanakpur-Bageshwar rail link.

The Tanakpur-Bageshwar rail link has been a long-standing demand of the people of the region. The nearest rail link is Kathgodam in Nainital district.

Professor GL Sah, Geography Department, Kumaon University, who has done a study on the Tanakpur-Bageshwar line, said, “I am saddened to know that there is no plan to develop the rail link, which could have changed the lives of thousands of people in this region.”

Sah belongs to Bageshwar district and he took personal interest while exploring the possibility of developing the rail route. “I carried out the work and sent the report to the state government and the railway ministry in 2008, but nothing happened.”

Sah, who is also head of the remote sensing centre lab at Kumaon Univeristy in Nainital, said, “For preparing the report, I used all the technological tools like GIS and remote sensing imagery to chart out the exact route, gradient, tunnels and stations of the rail link.”

Shah said the rail link was strategically important, and even the British had planned one in 1902. According to Sah’s report, the proposed rail link would be 137-km long, 67 km of which will be along the international border, and will have six stations. “According to my report, the link would require the construction of only one tunnel and four bridges. I made the route keeping in mind the terrain, geological structure of the area and altitude. I had compared the route track of the Kalka-Shimla for altitude and gradient while preparing the route here,” said Sah.

Meanwhile, the railway ministry has stated that the plans for the Rishikesh-Karanprayag rail link are ready. “The construction of 125-km-long new line has been taken up. The project is at an initial stage. Staking of alignment and geo-physical studies have been completed. Land plans have been submitted to the state government,” said the minister in Parliament.

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