The Eastern Bengal Railway (Presently Eastern Railway) from Sealdah to Ranaghat was opened in 1962 and extended to Kushtia (At present it is in Bangladesh) in the same year. The Ranaghat - Lalgola branch line was inaugurated in 1905. The trains were initially powered by steam engine. Sealdah – Ranaghat section was electrified much earlier but steam engine had continued up to seventies in Ranaghat – Lalgola section. Each train would start from Sealdah with electric engine and the engine used to replace by steam one at Ranaghat station with a break of half an hour. Slowly the diesel enginetook the place of steam engine in eighties as per the policy of Indian Railway. In 2004, the Ranaghat – Lalgola section had been electrified for EMU services and now the MEMU trains have been introduced. The passenger and express trains are now powered by electric engine. In this change the Krishnapur loco-shed has been closed down and this station has lost its importance.
I was enrolled in the degree college at Berhampore in 1973-74 academic year. From that year my train journey started but the travelling was limited in between Lalgola and Berhampore. That time no express train was in this route. All were passenger trains. Now, 14 pairs including three express trains are running daily. The sealdah – Krishnanagar track is still classified as a ‘C’ class track which is suitable for suburban section of metropolitan areas. The total track is broad gauge (1676 mm or 5’ 6’’) but Krishnanagar – Lalgola track was inferior in quality. This track was fitted with weak iron slippers. Average speed of the passenger trains were about 40 KM per hour. Those old iron slippers are now replaced by concrete slippers and the speed of the trains has increased from 40 KMPH to 60 KMPH.
When I was a college student the number of trains was only 5 pairs. In forty years the number has been approximately tripled. But still it is lagging behind in the ratio with increase of population. Murshidabad is a highly populated district with higher Muslim population. The growth rate of the districtis 23.7 percent (As per 1991-2001 census). Lalgola is a border town. Its growth rate always supersedes the district’s growth rate due to infiltration. In the above census the growth rate of Lalgola was 29.4 percent. It was 5.7 percent higher than the district. The train becomes full at the originating station (Lalgola) only. The passengers from other stations travel in the train standing. Sometime passengers fails to board the train due to heavy rush. According to Eastern Railway the section currently carry 42000 passengers per day.
Apart from the increase of population Lalgola college has established in 2006 and started offering courses from 2007-08 academic year under Kalyani university. The flow of students has been included in addition to existing crowd. Another one D. Ed college named ‘Agnibina College of education’ is going to start at Dewan Sarai which is about 2 KM away from Krishnapur station. The college will start its first batch in July 13. Again it will increase the rush.
Recently the double line has been sanctioned between Krishnanagar and Lalgola. The entire work will be completed in three phase. The first phase Krishnanagar to plassey is ready. The second phase Lalgola to Jiaganj is about to ready and the third phase – Plassey to Jiaganj is in progress. It is expected that within a year the trains will run from Sealdah to Lalgola in double line. The passengers will save the time taken for crossings. The journey time also will be reduced.
The Murshidabad district is equally divided in two parts by the river Bhagirathi. The eastern bank of the river is called Bagri and western bank Radh. A new bridge connecting Azimganj with Nasipur across the Bhagirathi is almost ready. The bridge will connect this section to the Barharwa – Azimganj – Katwa loop as well as the Bagri and Radh. It is expected that the running of additional trains through the Nasipur Bridge will improve the socio-economic field of the district and at the same time it will reduce the problems of the passengers who travel regularly in this section.