BHUBANESWAR: In what could be good news for people in the hinterland, trial run of trains in the first 32 km stretch of Khurda-Balangir line was successfully carried out on Sunday.
Twenty years after the 289-km broad gauge line was sanctioned, a railway engine chugged off from Khurda Road station at 10 am and hurtled all the way to Begunia and returned by 3 pm. The trial run marks the completion of the first phase of the project at an estimated `150 crore.
The much-awaited line is significant not only for connecting backward pockets of central Odisha districts but also linking the coastal regions with the western pockets of the State.
Commissioning of the line is expected by November once certification is received from the Commissioner, Railway Safety. The East Coast Railway will focus on peripheral development along the stretch.
The 32-km stretch from Khurda Road to Begunia has seven road overbridges (ROB), three big bridges and 55 small bridges. It will have two major stations - Khurda and Begunia.
Sources in the ECoR said, the Railway Board has so far sanctioned 112-km stretch of the 289-km line and the projected coast for this could stand at about `460 crore. While the first 32-km stretch is complete, the next phase will comprise completion of the line till Raja Sunakhala measuring a total of 46-km which is expected to be completed by March 2015. The 66-km stretch till Nayagarh is likely to be completed by the end of 2015-16 financial year.
The Khurda-Balangir line which has been a politically sensitive project, given the inordinate delay in its completion, was originally estimated at `1,000 crore. However, the 20 years that witnessed low budgetary provisions and issues of land acquisition delayed the project and shot its cost close to `2,000 crore.
The line will link Khurda with Nayagarh, Boudh, Sonepur and Balangir districts. A number of emerging urban areas and rural pockets in these districts will be connected by the railway network which is expected not only to improve communication but also to spur development.
Smaller towns such as Daspalla, Banigochha, Manipur and Boudh will be linked by the line. Work at the Balangir side of the project has also taken off.
Sunday’s trial run was conducted under the supervision of Chief Administrative Officer of East Coast Railway RP Dibakar and Chief Engineer Shankarshan Nayak.