Agartala, Jan 12: The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has invested around Rs 1,000 crore to extend the railway line beyond Tripura capital Agartala and up tothe state's southern temple city Udaipur, a top official said here on Thursday. The NFR would start two pairs of passenger train services on the newly constructed Agartala-Udaipur route from January 20, fulfilling the long-pending demands of the people of southern Tripura.
According to NFR's Chief Public Relations Officer Pranav Jyoti Sharma, the passenger trains would run six days a week, except on Sundays. "The NFR has invested over Rs 1,000 crore to extend the 44.76-km railway lines up to Udaipur (district headquarters of Gomati district). We have completed laying of railway tracks up to Udaipur before schedule of March 2017," NFR Chief Engineer Harpal Singh told IANS over phone from Guwahati.
He said: "The railway line would be extended up to south Tripura district headquarters Belonia by this year end or early next year. By March 2019, southern Tripura's last border town Sabroom would be connected by railway network."
Singh said that two major tunnels would be constructed for the Belonia and Sabroom lines. The Indian government has been extending railway line up to Tripura's border town Sabroom to get access to Bangladesh's international Chittagong sea port, which is just 75 km from Sabroom.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said: "After the Indian Railways extends its rail line up to Sabroom, it would be very easy to connect with the Chittagong international sea port in southeast Bangladesh."
"After extending the railway line to Sabroom, Tripura and the entire northeast India would be linked with southeast Asia very easily," Sarkar told IANS. The extension of the erstwhile metre-gauge track up to Agartala brought Tripura capital city on India's rail map in October 2008. Subsequently the metre-gauge track was converted into broad-gauge track.
The long-awaited passenger train services between Agartala, New Delhi and Kolkata began on July 31 and October 8 last year respectively. NFR Chief Engineer Singh said that the single track 227-km metre-gauge link -- Badarpur (south Assam) to Agartala -- was converted into broad-gauge track earlier last year at a cost of Rs 2,016 crore.
The NFR is now laying a broad-gauge track for the 112-km Agartala-Sabroom line -- to be completed by March 2019 -- at a cost of Rs 3,351 crore. Sabroom, 135-km (by traditional road) south of Agartala, is southern Tripura's border town adjoining Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, the NFR has already undertaken work to lay a 15-km rail track to connect Agartala with Bangladesh's railway station Akhaura, an important rail junction there. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Bangladeshi Rail Minister Majibul Haque jointly laid the foundation stone here on July 31 last year for Agartala (India) - Akhaura (Bangladesh) railway project.