A long-awaited measure to speed up trains and reduce congestion at Itarsi (ET) station on West Central Railway is now moving forward. Construction of the Itarsi station bypass, sanctioned over a decade ago, is finally well underway.
When complete, the bypass will save anywhere between 15-20 minutes for trains on the North-South route, sources in West Central Railway claim.
The bypass will start from just outside Jujharpur station to the south of ET on the Nagpur (NGP) – Itarsi line. It will head north from there. A flyover will take the bypass line over the Bhusawal – Itarsi line, after which it will go around Itarsi town, thus completely avoiding ET station and yard. The alignment will then turn east and meet the existing line just south of Powerkheda station.
For trains in the Up (Bhopal to Nagpur) direction, single line flyovers are planned to avoid detention at the entry and exit of the bypass. Work on these flyovers is yet to begin. Trains in the Down (Nagpur to Bhopal) direction will not need flyovers to switch to the bypass.
The Itarsi bypass will save time by avoiding routine detention at Itarsi station entry and within the station yard. Itarsi station is at the intersection of two important trunk lines – one heading from Mumbai to Jabalpur / Allahabad, and the other heading from Chennai to Delhi. As a result, the station witnesses many crisscrossing train movements every day.
With the bypass, trains like Durontos, Rajdhanis and Sampark
With Powerkheda also being turned into a freight terminal, sources say it is also likely that the goods loading at Itarsi will be moved to the new terminal, thus freeing up the yard from freight-related movement.
Originally sanctioned in the Railway Budget of 2008-09 as a North-South Grade Separator for Itarsi at a cost of Rs. 80 crores, the cost of the bypass has since escalated significantly. Issues with land acquisition and changes in the scope of work have also contributed to the delay of a decade, according to sources. Construction work on the much needed bypass only began in 2018.
A significant amount of work still remains, and sources say that it may be another two years before the entire project is complete.
More such bypasses and flyovers have been sanctioned at other key junctions to overcome issues of congestion in slow yards. The benefits of these will only become clear over the course of the next few years.
Photo Courtesy: Suyash Dwivedi: