Rail services to shut in Tripura for gauge conversion

Agartala/Guwahati, Aug 31 (IANS) Tripura would remain out of the rail network for more than six months as the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) would undertake gauge conversion work from September 20, an official said here on Monday.

“Due to the ‘Mega Block’ for conversion of railway line from meter gauge to broad gauge, running of both passenger and goods trains in between Badarpur (southern Assam) and Agartala section would be stopped from September 20,” NFR chief public relations officer P.J. Sharma said.

He said: “In order to facilitate faster conversion of the existing meter gauge track to broad gauge track, ‘Mega Block’ would be taken up in the Badarpur – Kumarghat – Agartala section (excluding Badarpur railway station).”

“The ‘Mega Block’ has been granted untill March 31, 2016 to complete the entire conversion work of the Badarpur-Kumarghat-Agartala section.”

The official, in a statement, said the preliminary work for undertaking the gauge conversion work has already been done in consultation with all stakeholders.

Sharma said: “After the ‘Mega Block’, Agartala would be connected by broad gauge track with the country’s railway network.”

After country’s independence, Agartala came up on the country’s rail map in 2008.

The 115-year-old railway lines necessitated to convert from meter gauge to broad gauge to bring them in sync with those in the rest of the country.

In the first phase, the NFR had completed the 220 km Lumding-Silchar gauge conversion works earlier this year and in the second phase, 217 km long Badarpur-Agartala section would be done.

But the railway is yet to start passenger train service on the Lumding-Silchar route.

The foundation of the much-delayed gauge conversion project — Lumding to Silchar and Silchar to Agartala — was laid by the then prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda at Silchar in 1996.

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

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