Agartala to be linked by broad gauge rail in six months

Agartala, Sep 9 (IANS) After Assam’s main city of Guwahati, Tripura capital Agartala would be the second key city in northeast India to be linked by broad gauge rail network by March next year, the state chief secretary quoted Railway Board chairman as saying on Wednesday.

Agartala was the first state capital in the northeast to come on the country’s rail map in 2008 through a meter gauge track.

“During a recent video conference meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Railway Board chairman A.K. Mittal and myself, Mittal said that the work of conversion of the existing track to broad gauge would be completed by March 2016,” Tripura chief secretary Y.P. Singh told reporters.

Mittal said southern Tripura’s Gomati and Sabroom border town, 135 km from Agartala, would be connected by broad gauge railway network by March 2017.

From Sabroom, Bangladesh’s international sea port is just 72 km.

According to an official document of Northeast Frontier Railway, all northeastern states, including Sikkim, would be connected through broad gauge by March 31, 2020.

The document said Indian Railways laid great emphasis on improvement in railway infrastructure in the northeastern region. Accordingly, over Rs.5,200 crore was spent on new lines, gauge conversion and doubling projects in the region in 2014-15. In 2015-16, a still higher outlay of Rs.5,338 crore has been provided for railway projects in the northeastern region.

Meanwhile, Tripura would remain out of the rail network for more than six months as the NFR would undertake gauge conversion work from September 20.

“Due to conversion of railway line, both passenger and goods trains between Badarpur (southern Assam) and Agartala section would be stopped from September 20,” NFR chief public relations officer P.J. Sharma said.

The entire conversion work on the Badarpur-Kumarghat-Agartala section ought to be completed by March 31, 2016.

The railways have faced severe criticism for the delay in completing the Rs.5,185-crore project, considered a lifeline for southern Assam, Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur.

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