The Indian Railways have started the Silchar-Sealdah Kanchanjunga Express operations on Monday, meeting a long-standing demand of the people to link southern Assam with adjoining states including Tripura.
North Frontier Railway spokesman Jyoti Sharma said in a statement that the tri-weekly train will also pass through Guwahati, Assam’s main city.
On the first day, the 19-coach train left Silchar in southern Assam at 9 a.m.
It will halt at 34 stations including Guwahati, New Bongaigaon, New Coochbehar, New Jalpaiguri, Malda Town, Bolpur Shantiniketan and New Alipurduar. It will cover 1,345 km in 32 hours.
Southern Assam, comprising four important districts, was brought on the broad gauge rail map on November 21 last year when Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu flagged off the inaugural passenger train.
The 437-km Lumding-Silchar and Badarpur-Agartala gauge conversion work was sanctioned in 1996. It was declared a national project in 2004, thereby ensuring uninterrupted funding from the general budget.
In the first phase, the 210-km Lumding-Silchar gauge conversion project was completed early last year, and in the second the 227-km Badarpur-Agartala gauge conversion was undertaken. It was to be completed in March but was completed three months earlier.
The Tripura capital is now connected with the country’s broad gauge railway network through Guwahati — a distance of around 600 km.
This railway connectivity is the lifeline for millions in Tripura, western Manipur and eastern Mizoram besides southern Assam.