In a big milestone, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Sunday laid the foundation stone for the Agartala–Akhaura broad gauge line. The 15.06 kilometre line between India’s Agartala and Bangladesh’s Akhaura is part of the Trans Asian Railway Network. The new line has the potential of substantially shortening the railway connectivity distance between Tripura and Kolkata. The total anticipated cost of the project is Rs 968 crore.
Crediting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Suresh Prabhu said that the PM has provided a “vision for the development of the northeastern states and Indian Railways have taken a holistic approach towards it.” “Indian Railways capital investment in northeastern region has consistently been increased and next year approximately Rs 7,000 crore will be allocated for developmental projects in the region,” he said.
Talking about the new broad gauge railway line to connect India and Bangladesh, Suresh Prabhu said, “Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) would be advised to explore possibility of developing tourist packages including northeast and Bangladesh so that more and more people can get connected to the region.” We take a look at 5 important facts about this railway project and its advantages:
1) Details: While 5.05 km of the 15.06 kilometre line falls in Tripura in India, 10.01 km of the project falls in Bangladesh. There will be 5 stations and 9 level crossings on the line. The project will involve construction of 15 bridges, including one major bridge. This line will have a speed potential of 100 kmph.
2) Connectivity: On completion, this India-Bangladesh rail link project shall be the gateway to the entire North-East region, says Indian Railways. It will connect Agartala (India) with Ashuganj and Chittagong Port of Bangladesh which shall be at 54 km and 213 km distance respectively. “It will also connect Agartala to Kolkata via Dhaka and the distance shall be 514 km. At present, railway distance between Agartala and Kolkata on the Indian Railways network is 1,613 km,” says Indian Railways. If this happens, the railway distance between Tripura and Kolkata would be reduced by over 1,000 km!
3) Completion and challenges: PranavJyoti Sharma, Chief Public Relations Officer told FE Online that the project is expected to be complete by 2019. Asked what challenges Indian Railways expects to face, PranavJyoti Sharma said, “I can only talk about the Indian side. I believe that land acquisition and soil stabilisation would pose challenges for IRCON, which is implementing the project on the Indian side.”
4) Cost and work: An amount of Rs 148.4 crore has been sanctioned for the in 2015-2016 Railway Budget. IRCON has been nominated to act as technical advisor for Bangladesh portion and to execute the work in India portion.
5) Importance: The project for construction of this new line was sanctioned in the Railway Budget 2012-2013. Accordingly, the government of India and Bangladesh signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on February 16, 2013. According to Indian Railways, the Agartala Akhaura International Rail link project will boost socio-economic development of Tripura, the entire Northeast region of the country and the nation as a whole.