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Border project to slash Agartala-Kolkata travel time by 21 hrs

The inauguration of the rail link, held virtually in November 2023 by Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, marked a historic moment. 

News Arena Network - Agartala - UPDATED: May 16, 2024, 04:17 AM - 4 mins read

A pictorial representation of rail links connecting India with Bangladesh.

Border project to slash Agartala-Kolkata travel time by 21 hrs

A pictorial representation of rail links connecting India with Bangladesh.


General Manager of East Central Railway, Anil Kumar Khandelwal confirmed on Wednesday that the train service between India and Bangladesh is on the verge of full-fledged operation as the construction of the Agartala-Akhaura railway link is rapidly nearing completion. 

 

Inspected recently by Khandelwal, the project promises to revolutionise trade and travel between India and Bangladesh.

 

This project, considered to be of national importance, is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Railways through Indian Railway Construction Company Limited (IRCON) and funded by the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (MDoNER).

 

The inauguration of the rail link, held virtually in November 2023 by Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, marked a historic moment. 

 

It signifies the re-establishment of crucial connectivity between Bangladesh and India's Northeast through Tripura. 

 

As Prime Minister Modi emphasised earlier, "Through this link, States of northeast India can also be connected to ports of Bangladesh," paving the way for enhanced trade opportunities.

 

Sharing the sentiment, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Hasina had highlighted the project's potential to energise commerce and connectivity in both nations. 

 

Spanning a total length of 12.24 kilometers, the dual gauge rail line features a 6.78 km section in Bangladesh and a 5.46 km stretch in Tripura. This vital connection will link Tripura to Akhaura in Bangladesh and, consequently, to its broader railway network.

 

Nischintapur in West Tripura is designated as the international immigration station, equipped to handle immigration procedures for passengers. 

 

Additionally, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) declared Nischintapur a Land Customs Station (LCS) in September 2023, streamlining the import and export of goods by land.

 

Beyond facilitating international transit, the project boasts another significant advantage – a drastic reduction in travel time between Agartala and Kolkata. 

 

Currently, the journey takes a staggering 31 hours, requiring a detour through Guwahati and Lumding in Assam. The new rail link will significantly shorten the distance to approximately 460 km, bringing the travel time down to a mere 10 hours.

 

This development aligns perfectly with the Central government's policies of 'Act East' and 'Neighbourhood First.'

 

 As highlighted by the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), the project is expected to foster the growth of small-scale industries in the border region, bolster tourism in Northeast India, and empower local producers by enabling quicker import and export of goods.

 

In June 2023, NFR estimated the total project cost on the Indian side to be ₹862.58 crore, financed by the Ministry for the Development of the Northeast Region.  

 

India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) further extended an additional ₹392.52 crore to support construction on the Bangladeshi side. 

 

The project involved Indian public sector undertaking Indian Railways Construction International Ltd for the Indian portion, while Texmaco Rail and Engineering undertook construction in Bangladesh.

 

Expressing optimism about the project's imminent completion, a senior NFR official stated, "Work is progressing rapidly, and soon trains will be operational between Bangladesh and India. People and goods will be able to travel between the two countries, boosting the economy and facilitating development. After arranging talks between countries, it will work in a full-fledged manner."

 

The official further elaborated on the ongoing infrastructural advancements within the Northeast Frontier Railway. 

 

"Many new lines are being added every year, with around 400 km of new tracks being laid. Almost all states are being connected. Due to heavy rain, railway tracks were damaged at Jatinga Lampur and New Harangajao, but they have now been restored, and all trains are running as usual. Electrification work is also progressing smoothly," he added.

 

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