Giridih/Kolkata: On September 12, for the first time, New Giridih railway station received an express train by Indian Railways that connects the district to the state capital, Ranchi.
Subsequently, two Vande Bharat trains, one running from Ranchi to Howrah and another from Patna to Howrah, passing through the main stations of Jharkhand, were introduced.
The media published a timetable for the Khandoli Express train, scheduled to run between Patna and Howrah from October itself. All these developments might lead one to believe that significant improvements are occurring in train services and that Giridih would benefit the most. However, these changes did not affect the lives of commuters in the way one might expect.
Giridih and Indian Railways
Giridih had a railway station in 1871 itself. But it never got an express train. Now, it has two stations– Giridih and New Giridih. Last September, New Giridih got an intercity express.
Ironically, as far as improving the rail facilities in Giridih is concerned, the “Lifeline of India” did not change much for the 32 lakh people of the district. When the new Giridih-Ranchi Intercity train was inaugurated, it was done with great fanfare, with Members of Parliament from Koderma and Giridih, Annapurna Devi, and CP Choudhury, in attendance.
Opposite timing of Giridih-Ranchi express train
The timing of the new Giridih-Ranchi express train (18618) is the opposite of what would benefit travelers. The train begins its journey to the state capital in the second half of the day at 2:30 pm and departs from Ranchi at 6 am. Every day, at least a dozen buses travel between Giridih and Ranchi from 4 am to 12 noon. The train schedule should be adjusted so that people can travel to the state capital in the morning and return in the evening using Indian railways.
“If the train timings do not change, it will not generate sufficient revenue for the South Eastern Railway Zone, potentially giving them a reason to discontinue it. The individuals taking credit for introducing the express train to Giridih should ensure practical timings that benefit passengers,” said a railway official at Giridih station, speaking anonymously.
The Vande Bharat trains do not stop at Dhanbad or Madhupur, which is a significant issue. Dhanbad, known as the coal capital of India, is the largest station in Jharkhand and has 56 pairs of trains passing through it daily. Patna’s Vande Bharat train also skips Madhupur, which is a major station compared to Jamtara and Jasidih, where it does stop. Adding a stop at Madhupur station would increase revenue since people from Giridih often choose to catch trains to other cities from there due to the absence of direct trains in their city.
Unofficial time table of Patna to Howrah via New Giridih released by media
Recently, vernacular media organizations published a timetable for the Khandoli Express, a Patna-Howrah bound train, suggesting that it would soon have a stop in New Giridih. However, it was later revealed that this was a suggestion from the Chamber of Commerce and not an official announcement from Indian Railways authorities.
Pradeep Agrawal, a member of the Zonal Railway Users’ Consultative Committee (Eastern Railway), confirmed that they are requesting South Eastern Railway Zone officials to change the timetable of the Ranchi-New Giridih train.
However, some observers with technical knowledge of train schedules believe that an express train from Patna to Howrah during daylight hours may not significantly benefit Giridih residents. As Patna is quite a distance from the city, the train will always be halfway, providing only partial benefit to Giridih commuters. Instead, they suggest sleeper trains departing around 10 pm from Giridih to reach Howrah in the morning, which could better address the long travel issue. Similarly, a 10 or 11 pm departure from Howrah to reach Giridih and Patna the next morning would provide an ideal timing.