Distance between Mumbai and Howrah via Jabalpur by train will reduce by about 400 km if the 85-year-old Barwadih-Chirimiri rail line project takes shape.
In the rail budget for 2010-11, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced to conduct the survey of new line between Chirimiri (Chhattisgarh) and Barwadih (Jharkhand). The proposal to connect the two mineral rich pockets by rail has been pending for more than eight decade.
Highly placed sources in the railway ministry told Business Standard that the Britishers were the first to moot the proposal way back in 1925 to connect Chirimiri and Barwadih, both coal rich areas, by rail. The plan was aimed to facilitate transportation of minerals.
The Britishers knew the importance of the rail line and the work on the project was started in the early 1930s after conducting the survey, sources added. The required land for the project was also acquired. But the work was stopped during the World War II and the project had been pending since then, sources said.
The new rail line would connect Howrah via Latehar, Dhanbad and Mumbai via Jabalpur, Itarsi. It would help reducing the rail distance between the two Metros. At present, both the Metros are connected by two different rail routes one via Nagpur, Raipur and another via Itarsi, Jabalpur.
The distance between Howrah and Mumbai via Jabalpur is 2,177 km while the same via Raipur comes to be around 1,968 km. The railway runs maximum trains between both the Metros via Nagpur and Raipur. Besides a daily Kolkata mail, a couple of weekly trains chug on Mumbai-Jabalpur-Howrah section.
Sources said that the new 202-km Barwadih-Chirimiri line would change the rail map route between Howrah and Mumbai. If the new line starts, it will reduce the distance between both the Metros by more than 400 km; making it shortest route between Mumbai and Howrah by curtailing travel time by atleast four hours, sources added.