Bangladesh-India consider resumption of abandoned railway routes to boost economic ties

ढाका Dhaka: Bangladesh is considering resumption of most railway routes, abandoned after Partition or more recently after the 1971 Liberation War.T his will help revive railway links rather strongly between the two countries, Bangladesh Railway Minister Mohammad Mazibul Hoque said here on Thursday.

He was speaking to Indian media during a press conference in Akhaurha integrated check post in Agartala.

“Akhaurha-Agartala rail connectivity is a very important project and for its implementation, both governments are very serious. For fast implementation of this project we have take few steps and hopefully it will go ahead speedily with India’s financial help. Be it LOC or grant but this project will be totally financed by India,” Hoque told reporters.

“Those rail links which have shutdown before or after liberation, we are considering restoring most of those deserted railway linkages. This will surely boost trade and improve the bilateral relationship between the two nations.”

After the partition of India and erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in August 1947, many railway routes between the two neighbours were snapped.

“With the help of Indian investment preliminary works have been started to lay a 15-km railway tracks to link Tripura’s capital Agartala with Bangladesh’s (southeastern city) Akhaurha railway station. The project would be operational at the earliest as the two countries are very serious about it.”

The total cost of the proposed project is estimated at Rs 2.52 billion.

The Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON) would lay the new railway tracks on both sides of the border,” a senior official (construction) of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) said.

Of the 15 km rail line, five km of tracks fall in the Indian territory and remaining on the Bangladesh side.

Agartala is the newest station of the Indian Railways, and came up on the country’s rail map in October 2008.

Hoque, who came here to attend a function in connection with the centenary of a school, said that with the financial assistance from the Indian government, 12 railway projects are being implemented in Bangladesh.

The projects include Dhaka-Tongi and Khulna-Mongla railway line extension and manufacture of 120 railway coaches for Bangladesh railways.

The minister said that the Bangladesh government has launched an ambitious plan to create simultaneous dual-gauge (Broad Gauge and Meter Gauge) railway line to further develop the internal connectivity and also to improve the railway linkages with India.

“If the old connectivities including the deserted railway linkages were restored, the trade, business, people to people relationship and tourism between India and Bangladesh would further develop greatly,” he added.