"The bypass that we are planning is through Gomoh. The cost of diversion of the track will be known after the RITES report," said a government official close to the development.
The Railways has sanctioned an elevated rail track costing Rs 2.5 billion at Gomoh with two additional connections to the Matari station for a smooth traffic flow. Including the additional rail connections, the total project cost is expected to be around Rs 5 billion.
"The decision to shut down the line was on the directions of the Director General of Mine Safety (DGMS). According to the coal ministry, only 14 km out of 35 km of the line is unsafe. So the plan is to bypass that stretch of 14 km. We are already running a few passenger trains till the last safe points," the official added. Following the closure of the route, the Railways had diverted at least seven daily mail and express trains to other routes while the remaining trains were cancelled. Officials added that once the detailed project report is ready, East Central Railway Zone and Dhanbad Railway division will start talks with the state governments for early acquisition of land and work will be taken up on priority.
The Railways was forced to shut down the Dhanbad to Jharia route in 2007 owing to a similar coal fire situation. The route is likely to be safe for operations from 2022 onwards. Despite taking several steps, only around 10 fires out of 80 have been extinguished since the nationalisation of mines in 1971.
Affected Railways stretch:
1) Within Bansjora station limit (after 7 km from Dhanbad)
2) Between Sijua-Katrasgarh (after 11 km)
3) Between Katrasgarh—Sonardih (near Tetulia Halt after 16 km)