ROURKELA: With no direct train connectivity between Berhampur in Ganjam district and Rourkela in Sundargarh district, the commuters have to go all the way to Bhubaneswar to board the connecting trains to commute between the two cities.
Despite the fact that the two cities are among the largest and thickly populated urban areas in the State with strong socio-economic bonding among the people, the connectivity between the two places remains poor. At present, two non-AC buses via Aska and one AC bus via Bhubaneswar are plying for those who can afford 14-16 hours of bone-breaking journey with odd departure timings.
In a reminder letter to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on June 6, Rourkela MLA Dilip Ray had urged the Ministry to extend the Rourkela-Bhubaneswar Rajyarani Express till Berhampur. Ray said the train reaches Bhubaneswar at 7.15 am and remains idle for about 16 hours before leaving the Capital City for Rourkela at 11.05 pm. There should not be any problem if the train travels another three hours to cover 166 kms from Bhubaneswar to Berhampur, he added.
For the last few years, the demand has been raised by several organisations, but it has failed to evoke any response from the Railways.
Prakash Senapati, a native of Ganjam district and city-based businessman, said his aged mother has not visited their hometown Berhampur for the last seven years for lack of direct train.
General secretary of Rail Users' Association Amulya Baral said only one train runs as Rajyarani Express. The East Coast Railway should introduce another train by utilising the Palasa washing line for washing and maintenance, he added.
Baral said the Railway should also introduce a direct train with the name of Gajapati Express via Chakradharpur and Keonjhar to establish direct train link between Rourkela and Berhampur covering a maximum distance of 600 kms. He claimed that while laying double track between Jharsuguda and Sambalpur (48 kms) and Talcher and Cuttack (110 kms) has been completed, work is still underway between Sambalpur and Talcher (170 kms).