Etah railway station in UP awaits a viable rail link for 62 years
Despite home to 130,000 people, the railway station in western Uttar Pradesh’s Etah district -- inaugurated on January 18, 1959 by then President Rajendra Prasad-- has failed to live up to its promise even 62 years later with only a single local train scheduled to stop at the station and in the absence of connectivity to the busy Agra-Bareilly route through Kasganj station. This despite the district being home to former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh.
The station these days wears a deserted look with the only train that halted here-- connecting Etah with Tundla and Agra-- getting cancelled two months ago due to curtailment of rail traffic amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Little wonder, Vijay Singh Verma, the station superintendent at Etah railway station, doesn’t look busy.
A stroll on the empty platform reveals the fading inscriptions on a marble plaque, proudly announcing that the station was unveiled by then President Dr Rajendra Prasad on January 18, 1959. A member of parliament from Etah, Rohan Lal Chaturvedi, who was the deputy railway minister in Jawaharlal Nehru’s cabinet, was instrumental in organising the inauguration, old timers recall.
“The railway station at Etah has been awaiting [proper] connectivity for the last 62 years. The railway station at Kasganj is merely 30 kilometres away. Despite promises, the train link to Kasganj is yet to be laid. Once linked with Kasganj, the railway station of Etah will be connected to the busy Agra-Bareilly route,” says Rakesh Gandhi, former chairman of Etah Nagar Palika Parishad.
The expansion of the rail network remains a sore point during every election in Etah and protests on the issue were organised twice at Jantar Mantar, near the Parliament, in New Delhi in January 2015 and 2016, but the situation hasn’t changed.
The fact that former CM Kalyan Singh’s son Rajveer currently represents the seat in Lok Sabha or that two other former CMs in Ram Naresh Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav also represented Nidholi Kalan (now Marhara) assembly constituency in Etah in 1977 and 1993 respectively, has also not made any difference to the fortune of the station.
“We have been raising the issue of rail connectivity to Etah and even met senior railway officials. We get assurances. There was a budgetary allocation of ₹279 crore for the Etah-Kasganj section but yet again Etah could not have a train link with Kasganj, since the survey could not be completed in time,” complains Anuj Gupta, a local businessman.
Locals say the current link is not preferred since it takes twice as long to reach either Agra or Tundla. “The passenger train is the choice of only those who find the fare less than the bus fare,” says a sanitation worker at the railway station.
In absence of a viable option, a large number of students from Etah travel to Agra shelling out higher bus fares. Agra is 80 kilometres from Etah.