Cooch Behar: Demonstrations seeking extension of 140-year-old Darjeeling Mail to Alipurduar via Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri and counter-protests continued to rock north Bengal on Sunday.
Residents of Alipurduar, Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri have been raising the demand for the train’s extension for the past couple of weeks. Even some elected representatives like north Bengal development minister Rabindranath Ghosh and Alipurduar MLA Sourav Chakraborty have lent their support.
On the other hand, Siliguri mayor and MLA Asok Bhattacharya have voiced protests and unequivocally said he would launch a movement if any such decision was taken by the railways.
The railway’s decision to extend the Padatik Express — considered as the second best train after Darjeeling Mail between NJP and Sealdah – to Alipurduar has not gone down well with Siliguri residents.
“Darjeeling Mail carries a heritage of its own. It has been running since 1878 and has changed routes after partition and after construction of the Farakka Barrage. If required, additional trains bound for Calcutta can always be provided for Cooch Behar and Alipurduar residents. But extending the route of Darjeeling Mail is something that is undesirable,” said Gouri Shankar Bhattacharya, a prominent travel writer.
They also submitted a memorandum addressed to the general manager of the Northeast Frontier Railway, demanding that Darjeeling Mail and the NJP-Chennai Express be extended till Alipurduar.