Saturday, June 13, 2015

Only Railway station in India, with three Guages

Siliguri Junction is one of the three railway stations that serve Siliguri in Darjeeling district in the Indian state of West Bengal. The other two stations are: Siliguri Town and New Jalpaiguri.

In 1878, the railway line from Calcutta (later called Sealdah) station to Siliguri was in two stages – 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge from Calcutta to Damookeah Ghat, on the southern bank of the Padma, across the river in a ferry and then 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) metre gauge to Siliguri. In 1881, the 610 mm (2 ft) narrow gauge line from Siliguri to Darjeeling was added. In 1926, with the Hardinge Bridge in position, the entire Calcutta-Siliguri line was converted to 1,676 mm broad gauge and in 1947, following the partition of India the line was severed, as a major portion of the line ran through East Pakistan.

With the railway routes badly disturbed by the partition of India in 1947, Siliguri Town railway station suddenly lost its pre-eminence, as the broad gauge link to Calcutta, running across East Pakistan, was lost.

In the post-partition era, with makeshift arrangements via Barsoi and Kishanganj being metre gauge and narrow gauge, the focus shifted in 1949 to a new Siliguri Junction railway station and later still, in 1961 to the new broad gauge station at New Jalpaiguri.

With three metre gauge lines, the new Siliguri Junction railway station became the main railway station in the area. The three metre gauge lines were linked to Kishanganj and Barsoi, Assam and Haldibari. The narrow gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was there. The short reign was over in the 1960s when a new broad gauge line linked Siliguri with Calcutta, and subsequently, all railway lines in the area (excepting Darjeeling Himalayan Railway) were converted to broad gauge. The focus shifted in 1961 to a brand new broad gauge station at New Jalpaiguri.