The new 12.3 km Akhaura rail line will reduce journey time between Agartala and Kolkata by 21 hours, by cutting through Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka instead of Guwahati. The travel time between Agartala and Kolkata will now be reduced to around 10 hours from current 31 hours as it will travel a mere 550 km instead of 1600. India and Bangladesh currently have four operational rail links between West Bengal and Western Bangladesh – Petrapole-Benapole, Gede-Darshana, Radhikapur-Biral and Singhabad-Rohanpur. Radhikapur-Biral and Singhabad-Rohanpur are also notified for use of Nepalese transit traffic.
The present line will go to Akhaura which is linked to Dhaka Chittagong rail route. “Kolkata is a major destination for people in this area, but as of now there was no direct connectivity to the city. The line will help not only people from Agartala but also those from Mizoram which is 150 km away,” Chief engineer of the Rs 570 crore project M S Chauhan said. The line will be operational by 2020, he said.
The trains on the line will undergo security check once at Nishchintpur on the Indian side and Gangasagar on the Bangladesh side, sources said. This line will be instrumental in freight movement as well as goods from the northeastern state can now reach Kolkata in one third the time. Similarly, goods from Chittagong port will reach Agartala quicker. The number of Bangladeshi travellers to India increased from 7.5 lakh in 2015 to 9.33 lakh in 2016. In the first six months of 2017, seven lakh Bangladeshis visited India.