Tripura on Wedneday finally found place on the country’s broad gauge railway map with Manoj Sinha, Minister of State for Railways, receiving the first trial train on the newly laid railway tracks in Agartala. With this, altogether three state capitals in the Northeast are now connected to the broad gauge network.
Speaking on the occasion, Sinha said that while people of Tripura would now be able to board a train and travel directly to different destinations across the country, work on two more projects — Agartala-Sabroom and Agartala-Akhaura — were being taken up on a top priority. While the station at Sabroom will be a future connecting point for the Chittagong port in Bangladesh, the other project will connect Agartala with Akhaura inside Bangladesh, to subsequently become part of the ambitious Trans-Asian Railway.
Assuring that the Agartala-Sabroom line would be completed by March 2017, Sinha stated that boosting of rail connectivity in the Northeast was an area of topmost concern for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “The government remains committed to connection of all state capitals of Northeast by BG railway network within 2020,” he said. Agartala was earlier connected with a metre-gauge track in 2008.
“Declaration of the Agartala new line project as a national project by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a turning point in the long history of the project after which adequate fund flow came to be made available. The present success is attributable to the hard work and dedication of railway engineers whose effort saw completion of six months balance work in three months and which ensured that trial train could be received well within target,” Sinha said.
While a large number of people turned up at the station to witness arrival of the first broad gauge train in the Tripura capital, the railways particularly felicitated the train’s loco pilot of Shanti Kumar Das, assistant loco pilot Abhijeet Bhattacharjee and guard Krishna Prasad Deb by calling them to the dais. Tripura Transport Minister Manik Dey and Health Minister Badal Choudhury were also present on the occasion.
Sanctioned in 1996-97, the 227-km new broad gauge track that connects Agartala to Badarpur in Assam for onward link to Lumding and Guwahati, has cost over Rs 7,751 crore. It has 31 stations between Badarpur and Agartala, apart from five tunnels and 44 major and 427 minor bridges.