Railways to invest over Rs 95,261cr to link NE state capitals

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The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) would invest over Rs 95,261 crore to execute 21 projects including connecting the state capitals of three northeastern states — Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya by 2023, and Nagaland capital Kohima by 2026, an official said on Friday.

Assam’s main city of Guwahati (adjoining capital Dispur), Tripura capital Agartala, and Arunachal Pradesh’s Naharlagun (adjacent to capital city Itanagar) are already connected with the railway network.

NFR’s Chief Public Relations Officer Sabyasachi De on Friday said with the vision to connect the remaining state capitals and also to increase the line capacity in the region, funds to the tune of Rs 51,787 crore have already been allocated.

The average fund allocation per year for the northeastern region in the last eight years is 254 per cent more than the yearly average fund allocation in 2009-14.

“While the work for laying new broad gauge railway tracks are underway to connect the Imphal and Aizawl, the work of laying new lines to connect Shillong would not face much hurdles as there are no big mountains in between Guwahati and Shillong,” De told IANS.

He said the government has put all its efforts to improve the rail connectivity in the northeast.

“The northeastern region of the country has received a significant infrastructure boost in the railway sector in the last eight years (2014-2022). Between 2014 and 2022, a total of 893.82 km of track have been converted to broad gauge, 386.84 km new lines added, 356.41 km double lines commissioned and survey of 1,578 km new lines were completed,” he added.

The CPRO said that an investment of Rs 95,261.65 crore is expected in the region to complete 21 projects, which include linking of the remaining state capitals of the region.

These ongoing projects have created a large number of jobs in the region for gainful employment of locals and have also transformed the socio-economic landscape of the region.

The commissioning of the Bogibeel bridge in 2018 was a moment of pride for this region, the official said adding that this longest rail-cum-road bridge reduced the journey distance from eastern Assam to Delhi by 170 kms and fulfilled a long time strategic need for rail connectivity across the mighty Brahmaputra in Assam.

Apart from the new line and doubling work, efforts have also been made to increase railway safety in the region. The NFR has eliminated all unmanned level crossing gates in the region. Safer, more reliable and more comfortable LHB (Linke Hofmann Busch) coaches have been introduced in 40 pairs of trains from the northeast.

The NFR official said that the government firmly believes that northeast would be the new growth engine of India and is working in the direction to make this a reality.

The NFR is the nodal agency of the Rs 1,000 crore Agartala (India)-Akhaura (Bangladesh) railway project, which was finalised in January 2010 when Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during her visit to New Delhi.

Of the 12.24 km India-Bangladesh new railway line, 5.46 km railway track is being laid in India (on the outskirts of the capital city Agartala), and 6.78 km railway line would be placed on the Bangladesh side.

Once the Agartala-Akhaura railway project is commissioned, people of the northeastern states, especially Tripura, can go to Kolkata by rail saving 22 hours of travel time. Currently, the people of the region, especially those in Tripura and its adjoining areas, go to Kolkata via Guwahati by rail, spending more than 38 hours.

The NFR, one among the 17 railway zones in India, operates fully and partially in six of the eight northeastern states, excluding Meghalaya and Sikkim, and in seven districts of West Bengal and five districts of north Bihar.

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