Patna,(BiharTimes): Had Ram Vilas Paswan, Nitish Kumar or Lalu Prasad been the railway minister it would have been a different story. But on Tuesday it was a low-key affair with just Sitamarhi MP, Arjun Rai, flagging off a passenger train.
It took 16 long years for the completion of 63-km long Muzaffarpur-Sitamarhi broad gauge railway line and the first passenger train steamed off with relatively little fanfare. Instead people were heard asking as to why it took so long when Bihar had three railway ministers in between.
The foundation for this project was laid by the then railway minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, in 1997. When Nitish Kumar succeeded he sanctioned funds for it in 2001. By April 2011 the track was laid between Sitamarhi and Runnisaidpur. It took another two years for the completion.
The local MP Arjun Rai flagged off the train from Runnisaidpur to Muzaffarpur on Tuesday. Now two Up-Down passenger trains would run daily and the fare would be just Rs 15. It will take less than two hours to complete the journey between Muzaffarpur and Sitamarhi.
The project cost Rs 550 crore though the initial estimate was Rs 250 crore.
The absence of any VIP came as a big surprise, as Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar flagged off a couple of passenger trains even when Mamata Banerjee was the railway minister.
Sitamarhi is connected by rail with Samastipur and Darbhanga and the tracks go up to Narkatiaganj in East Champaran.
The MP also laid the foundation stone of railway station building at Runnisaidpur. He said on the occasion that survey and land acquisition work for the new rail line for Sonbarsa and Parihar would start during financial year 2013-14.
Incidentally, when Ram Vilas, Nitish and Lalu were the railway minister they would come all the way from New Delhi to inaugurate even small projects like foot-overbridges (FOBs) and ticket booking centres in Bihar.
It is not that they have lost interest in the railway projects. Only on Tuesday Nitish made an aerial survey of the rail-cum-road bridge over river Ganga in Patna and held review meeting with GM, East Central Railway, Madhuresh Kumar, and other officials.