Badurjhola, translated to English, would mean ‘hanging like bats’. If anything that comes to mind when one sees the rush-hour local trains in Kolkata, it must be this term, badurjhola. For millions across the suburbs of the metropolis, local trains are the only viable connection. [Image source]
The trains are more or less crowded throughout the day and late into evening. However, when it is peak-hour, people pack in like sardines in a tin can. Indian Railway on its part has thought precious little to improve journey conditions.
Unlike Mumbai, where there are not many routes to ply and the distance too is not much except perhaps Kalyan Junction on Central Railway, local trains in Kolkata run on multiple routes and have pretty long distances to cover.
But compared to Mumbai, despite occasional nuisance there like bhajan singing, local train service in Kolkata is abysmal. Trains run late, often cancelled without any notice, ‘infested’ with mobile hawkers and insensitive card players, and of course the frequency is much lower than in Mumbai.
Now, at long last there perhaps is some succor for travel-wary passengers. Number of coaches per train is slated to increase to 12 instead of 9 at present. This means the length of platforms at all stations has to increase in order to accommodate the lengthy carriage.
In Eastern Railway’s Sealdah main section, a couple of galloping locals to Kalyani do have 12 coaches. But they do not, rather cannot, stop at all places. From Sealdah the first stop is at Dum Dum, then all the way to Barrackpore, and then Naihati before reaching Kalyani.
Obviously, one or 2 such Kalyani Supers will not solve the sardine-like passenger condition. If not the ‘valiant’ daily goers, visitors like Katie and Annie (see post, Life in Kolkata), having once experienced the ordeal will never again venture into traveling in local trains. Which is why, the railways’ step of increasing number of coaches will bring long-needed relief and is therefore welcome.