Soon after gaining Independence and the trauma of Partition that followed, Assam urgently needed a new rail link as the existing Bengal Assam Railway was through the newly created East Pakistan and was by now firmly closed.
Equally important was a rail link to Pathankot, which provided a vital road connection into Kashmir as after its accession to India the normal rail route to the valley via Jammu, Sialkot to major cities such as Lahore and Karachi was also cut off.
Indian Railways rose to the occasion, and work on a 227-km-long Assam metre gauge rail link into the Northeast, connecting Siliguri to Fakiragram of the old Bengal Assam Railway was started in January 1948 and completed within two years, the line being inaugurated on January 26, 1950.
Sardar Patel, the Iron Man of India, had reportedly summoned Karnail Singh, the engineer-in-chief of the project, and on being told that hundreds of bridges were required to be built, advised him, “build them of gold if need be, but complete the line fast.”
Simultaneously a 44-km rail line was built from Punjab’s Mukerian to Pathankot—a station on the erstwhile North Western Railway—and formally opened to traffic on April 7, 1952, providing an invaluable rail head for Jammu & Kashmir.
In order to replace Karachi, which had also served major parts of North India, a brand new port was built at Kandla in 1950 to provide an alternative
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