The Indian Railway Ministry has recently allocated Rs 153.84 crores for the ongoing construction of a railway line connecting Tripura in India to Bangladesh, according to officials. The Agartala-Akhaura railway project, with an estimated cost of Rs 862.58 crores, is expected to become operational by the end of this year or early next year.
Sabyasachi De, Chief Public Relations Officer of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), stated that the funding for the project is being provided by the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DONER). Of the total anticipated cost, approximately Rs 708.74 crores has already been provided and utilized.
The new rail project is set to strengthen relations between India and Bangladesh, fostering the growth of small-scale industries in the border region and boosting tourism in the northeastern part of India. Additionally, it will facilitate faster import and export of commodities, enabling local producers to reach international markets more efficiently.
De emphasized that Indian Railways is actively working towards realizing the Prime Minister’s vision of the ‘Act East Policy’ and ‘Neighborhood First Policy’ by implementing various railway line projects that connect neighboring countries. The Agartala-Akhaura railway line, which is in its final stages of completion, holds significant importance in this regard.
Spanning a length of 15.064 km, the railway line comprises 5.05 km in India and 10.014 km in Bangladesh. It will link Akhaura in Bangladesh to Agartala, with an international immigration station at Nischintapur on the outskirts of Agartala. This station will serve as a dual gauge facility for both passenger and goods exchange between the two countries. The project includes one major bridge and three minor bridges.
Once the project is completed, the travel time between Agartala and Kolkata, via Dhaka, is expected to reduce from approximately 31 hours to just 10 hours, as stated by De. Presently, residents of the region, particularly those in Tripura and neighboring areas, have to travel to Kolkata via Guwahati, enduring a journey of over 31 hours by rail.
The Northeast Frontier Railway, headquartered in Maligaon (Guwahati), is the nodal agency overseeing the Agartala-Akhaura railway project. The project was finalized in January 2010 when the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, met with the then Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, during her visit to New Delhi.
Officials from the NFR in Agartala have reported that over 90% of the work on the Indian side of the Agartala-Akhaura railway project has already been completed.