Railway engine reaches Agartala successfully after four decades

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Agartala, Jun 29 (UNI) After 44 years of persuasion, the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) today successfully brought a train engine to Tripura's capital city, travelling through a 1,856-metre tunnel in Atharamura hill range.

NFR officials said it was the trial run, a day before the schedule to connect Agartala, the second capital city of the Northeast after Guwahati, with rest of the country.

The officials said the commercial run was expected to be launched on August 15, as the train engine had reached its destination safely following the Railway Safety Commission's clearance certificate to pave the way for the rail authorities and both the Centre and state government fixed the date for ceremonial proceedings.

During trial run a group of senior railway officials inspected the final stage of the project to receive its first passenger locomotive engine, the officials said, adding that the 109 km-long link took 15 years to build.

Chief Engineer of the project in Tripura F S Mina informed that a train engine had first reached Tripura in 1964 when the railway was extended to the state's northern business hub Dharmanagar and subsequently it was extended further to Kumarghat.

''It has taken 40 years since then to connect Agartala by rail but after Indian Railways extends its line up to Sabroom, the southmost point of Tripura would be very easy to connect with the Chittagong international port in Bangladesh, which is just 75 km from there,'' Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said.

He underlined that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had declared the railway link in Tripura a national project and the work to build the 110 km Agartala-Sabroom line would begin by January.

The railway extension project would on completion be worth Rs 800 crore, though the budgetary allocation was Rs 879 crore and assured that the rail path is metre gauge with a provision to convert it into broad gauge at the earliest.

Approximately 1,200 acres of land would be required for the Rs 813 crore project to connect Tripura's southern border town Sabroom by rail, railway sources added.

However, the railway track-laying work between Kumarghat and Agartala claimed 36 lives, including railway workers and security forces guarding the tracks, in 28 militant strikes in the past two decades while 67 people were kidnapped from the site during the period.

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