DoNER sanctions NE’s first Indo-Bangla rly

From CK Nayak

NEW DELHI: After more than seven decades of Independence, the Northeastern region will soon be connected with neighbouring Bangladesh by train with the first ever rail engine puffing off from the Agartala railway station to Akhaura across the border.
North East is, in near future, all set to make history, by getting its first-ever “Train to Bangladesh”. Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Dr Jitendra Singh said.
Work for this ambitious project to link the Northeastern region of India with Bangladesh, has already started on the Agartala-Akhaura rail link, he said.
The cost of the Indian portion of the project, that is, the rail track from Agartala up to the Bangladesh border will be funded by DoNER at an estimated amount of approximately Rs 580 crore, while the Bangladesh portion of the rail link is being funded by the Union Ministry of External Affairs as grant assistance.
The ambitious rail project, Singh said, will open up Tripura and the entire Northeastern region of India, globally to the outside world and facilitate augmentation of trade and commerce as well as movement of goods and services between the two nations by ensuring maximum use of the Chittagong Port.
Once operational, the journey to and from Agartala to Kolkata will substantially reduce as it would take only 10 hours contrary to 31 hours that it used to take earlier. The Akhaura rail line will pass through Dhaka instead of Guwahati.
The distance between the two destinations viz. Kolkata and Agartala will be reduced to 550 km from 1600 kilometres. As of now, Bangladesh and India have four rail links – Petrapole-Benapole, Gede-Darshana, Radhikapur-Biral and Singhabad-Rohanpur all linking West Bengal.
The Maitree Express re-established this connection between the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka with Kolkata in 2008 after being closed for 43 years. In 2017 a second service, the Bandhan Express, was inaugurated connecting Kolkata with the Bangladeshi city of Khulna, recreating the previous Barisal Express route.
During British rule over the undivided land, regular over-night trains connected major towns and cities. After partition three train services continued operation between the two countries until Indo-Pakistani Conflict of 1965.
Again on April 14, 2008, on the occasion of the Bengali New Year, the train services between the two countries were re-launched. But for the North East Agartala-Akhaura will be the first and only rail link with next door Bangladesh.

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