Passengers on the nine kilometre rail route from Digha Ghat to Patna Ghat in Bihar are witnesses to an almost empty passenger train that runs on this line about four times a day. Indian Railways has been running this train, the Digha Ghat – Patna Ghat DMU, since 2004, for office-going commuters and other people like vegetable vendors and milkmen.
About 50-60 passengers board the train in one trip, and it earns a meagre Rs. 1,000 in a day, with a fare of just Rs. 12 per passenger.
Picture for representation only: doyouknow.in
The Digha-Patna route, which was made operational in 1862, was dysfunctional for about 20 to 30 years before being revived by the then Railway Minister, Lalu Prasad Yadav, in 2004. The train is a very beneficial for daily commuters, wage earners, vegetable sellers, etc.
“There are several routes across the country on which railways runs trains to meet social obligations. We are doing the same in this,” an East Central Railways (ECR) official told The Times of India.
In 2005, the Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, made an attempt to change the route into a four-lane highway so that the road traffic elsewhere in the state could be reduced. In 2013, the then General Manager of ECR, Madhuresh Kumar also said that the procedure was in progress to transfer the railway land to the state government for construction of a 4-lane highway.
According to reports, the matter remains unfinished till date and the train continues to run. Additionally, some technical experts were also not happy with the idea of dismantling the R-Block-Digha Ghat rail line in 2012. They felt that the road traffic in Patna had reached a saturation point and the train would be an alternate mode of transport.
“The Digha Ghat-Patna Ghat track can be used as an alternative with the commissioning of Digha-Sonepur railway bridge, in case any problem crops up on the track,” ECR sources said.
The train runs at a speed of 20 km/hr. It crosses places like Hartali Mor, Rajiv Nagar, Indrapuri and R-Block in the morning and evening.
Another example of a defunct train running to fulfil its social obligation is that of one in Japan, which is used by a school girl – the only passenger on the train. Japan government was planning to shut down the station located in a remote area, before they noticed that a school girl boards the train daily. So they kept it running and decided to continue doing so until she graduates. She boards the train from Kami-Shirataki station in the northernmost island of Hokkaido, Japan and the same train drops her back from school.