The Lalgola and Gede branch lines connect Ranaghat with Lalgola and Gede in the Indian state of West Bengal . Both the branch lines run up to the India-Bangladesh border. While Lalgola is on the southern bank of the Padma, Gede has a through connection via Darshana.

History

The main line of the Eastern Bengal Railway from Sealdah to Ranaghat, was opened in 1862 and extended to Kushtia, now in Bangladesh, the same year. The Calcutta terminus of the Railway was opened the same year in a tin-roofed shed at Sealdah. The Sealdah-Ranaghat-Gede Line was part of the Calcutta-Siliguri Main Line. After partition of India in 1947, the main line got truncated and what remained in West Bengal formed the Gede Branch Line.[2]

The Ranaghat-Lalgola Branch Line (now sometimes referred as the Main Line) was opened in 1905.[3]

Track

The Ranaghat – Krishnanagar City Jn. - Beldanga and Jiaganj - Lalgola section has double line. The remaining Beldanga - Jiaganj section is being doubled. Surveys have been completed for third line from Krishnanagar City Jn to Naihati and work is expected soon.[4]

The Sealdah - Dumdum - Naihati - Kalyani - Ranaghat – Krishnanagar track is classified as a C-class track, which is not a speed classification but one used for suburban sections of metropolitan areas. The important railway stations falling in Sealdah main line section including Lalgola section are Naihati jn, Kalyani, Ranaghat jn,Krishnanagar city jn,Beldanga, Berhampore Court, Murshidabad.[5]

Bridge

A new railway bridge connecting Azimganj with Nasipur across the Bhagirathi is almost ready but the owners of land lying between the bridge and the station are unwilling to hand over their land for the construction of the connecting railway line. The bridge will connect this line to the Barharwa–Azimganj–Katwa loop.[6]

Electrification

The Ranaghat-Krishnanagar City & Shantipur section was electrified in 1963-64.[7] The 32.5 km long Ranaghat-Gede line was electrified in 1997-98.[8] The 128 km long Krishnanagar-Lalgola stretch was electrified in 2004 for EMU services.[9][10]

Narrow gauge: Shantipur, Nabadwip Ghat

The Nadia area had some narrow gauge lines.

The earliest of these was opened in 1898. It ran from Aistola Ghat on the bank of the Churni, some two miles from Ranaghat, to Krishnanagar via Shantipur. The line was constructed by Martin and Company and it was taken over by Eastern Bengal Railway in 1904.[11]

The second narrow gauge line was from Krishnanagar to Nabadwip Ghat. It was originally owned by McLeod and Company and transferred to Eastern Railway in 1966. It was a 28 km line with 762 mm gauge lines.[12]

The Ranaghat-Shantipur section was converted to broad gauge earlier to allow EMU coaches from Sealdah to run up to Shantipur. The narrow gauge, therefore, became Shantipur-Krishnanagar-Nabadwip Ghat line. That too has been closed in 2010 for conversion to broad gauge. The electrified broad-gauge service between Krishnanagar and Santipur was opened in 2012.[13][14]

Here is a description of the narrow gauge ride: "Both the station electric bell and the platform three handbell were rung in our honour. The tiny engine gave a peanut whistle – for once whistle and engine were well matched – and then surreptitiously changed from blowing off to blowing steam through its cylinders. The loose couplings of the unbraked coaches took up their slack and the engine’s hissings turned to the puffing of a small locomotive with small wheels accelerating a light train to cruise at 15 mph.

"India is not, by and large, a green country, but Bengal is: a luxuriant place where each little group of trees attracts bamboos and creepers and builds up into a thicket of dark green made darker by the black stems of the palms. And the fields are brilliantly yellow-green with paddy. So this line – short distance, private right of way, scenery so green as to drip moisture and air so humid as to give the engine white steam – this was as near as India got to the Welsh narrow gauge. Despite five return trips being run daily, the trains were too light to keep the rails burnished. Though straight in general intent, these rails were kinked at the joints, and so induced a good deal of sideways lurch as well bounce and jar – though these latter were restricted by lack of springs. What with this, and the carriages being so close to ground level and occasionally also to branches meeting overhead, the train achieved an intimacy with both track and country such that one heard its progress as much by vibrations coming upwards through one’s seat as by ear." [15]