Railway Minister-Tripura CM to inaugurate new rail line

Agartala, Jan 18 (IANS) The Railway Minister and the Tripura Chief Minister will jointly inaugurate a new railway line beyond the state capital Agartala — up to the state’s southern temple city Udaipur — on January 24, an official said here on Wednesday.

Chief Minister Manik Sarkar met Railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Wednesday in New Delhi and discussed the expansion of railway lines in the northeastern state.

“The Railway Minister told the Tripura Chief Minister that they would jointly inaugurate the 44.76-km new railway line up to Udaipur (district headquarters of Gomati district) from state capital Agartala on January 24,” a Tripura government release said.

“The Railway Minister informed the Chief Minister that by 2019, southern Tripura’s last border town Sabroom would be connected by rail network to secure access to the Chittagong international sea port in neighbouring Bangladesh.

“The railway station at Sabroom border town would be made of international standard, as this would be a new gateway for the northeastern states of India,” the release said.

“Prabhu, with regard to the Tripura government’s long pending demand to set up a railway division in the state, told Sarkar that it would not be a tangible benefit, rather it would only add to administrative costs to set up a new railway division.

“A nodal officer of the Railway Board would be appointed in Tripura soon to coordinate with the state government to expedite the ongoing works of the railways,” it added.

Meanwhile, according to Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) Chief Engineer Harpal Singh, the NFR has invested over Rs 1,000 crore to extend the 44.76-km railway line up to Udaipur, southern Tripura’s main commercial city.

“We have completed laying of railway tracks up to Udaipur before schedule of March 2017,” Singh told IANS over phone from Guwahati.

He said: “The railway line would be extended up to South Tripura’s district headquarters Belonia by this year-end or early next year. By March 2019, southern Tripura’s last border town Sabroom would be connected by railway network.”

The government has been extending railway line up to Sabroom to ferry goods using Bangladesh’s international Chittagong sea port, which is barely 75 km from Sabroom.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said: “After the Indian Railways extends its rail line up to Sabroom, it would be very easy to connect with the Chittagong international sea port in southeast Bangladesh.”

“After extending the railway line to Sabroom, Tripura and the entire northeast India would be linked with southeast Asia very easily,” Sarkar told IANS.

The extension of the erstwhile metre-gauge track up to Agartala brought Tripura’s capital city on India’s rail map in October 2008. Subsequently, the metre-gauge track was converted into broad-gauge track.

Meanwhile, the NFR has already undertaken work to lay a 15-km rail track to connect Agartala with Bangladesh’s Akhaura railway station, an important rail junction there.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Bangladesh’s Rail Minister Majibul Haque jointly laid the foundation stone here on July 31 last year for Agartala-Akhaura railway project.