Tripura also seeks access to Trans-Asian Network
Agartala: Tripura is all set to have full-fledged broad-gauge regular train service with other states, including Bengal and Delhi, after May 20. The announcement is likely to be made after the formal withdrawal of the election code of conduct, currently in force for polls in Assam, Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. At present, trial run of passenger trains on the newly laid broad-gauge track between Silchar and Agartala is on and will continue till the launching of the service. This was stated by railway minister
Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu during a discussion with Tripura MPs, Jiten Chowdhury and Sankar Prasad Datta, yesterday at Rail Bhawan. The MPs had gone to meet Prabhu to press for an early start to regular broad-gauge railway service. Prabhu said after commencement of regular service, Tripura will have railway connectivity with Calcutta and Delhi by broad-gauge passenger trains. “He, however, refused to assure the launching of Rajdhani Express for direct links with Delhi through the hilly terrain and tunnels in Assam,” Chowdhury said from Delhi over phone.
Apart from this, the transport commissioner of the state government, Samarjit Bhowmik, said direct train services from Agartala to Calcutta and Delhi would be difficult to launch because of track condition. “The stability of the tracks especially between Agartala and Silchar and between Lumding and Badarpur will have to be tested through general train services. Superfast trains like Duronto and Rajdhani Express require sturdy tracks on solid soil. If the general trains run safely, the question of running the superfast trains will be considered,” Bhowmik said.
He said he had been briefed on the matter by senior officials and engineers of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR). Bhowmik also pointed out that the hilly stretch of the tracks between Badarpur and Lumding is still prone to landslips during monsoon and even pre-monsoon rain. “This happened in early April also. Massive chunks of earth had to be removed from the tracks to clear the tracks. This may happen again during the monsoon. So the question of safety and security of services will have to be considered and weighed before giving clearance to superfast trains.”
He added that repair on the tracks was on in full swing. On slide of tracks in the Panisagar area of North Tripura and on the Churaibari-Loarpura section of tracks between North Tripura and Karimganj district of Assam’s Barak Valley, he said it is not a very serious issue. “‘These problems have been resolved and the conditions of the tracks have been tested afresh before giving clearance to a trial run of a passenger train between Silchar and Agartala.”
He said he had been assured by the NFR that after launching of regular passenger train services on broad gauge between Agartala and other state capitals and major towns, the linking of Udaipur in Tripura’s Gomati district and Sabroom in South Tripura district by broad-gauge railway would be taken up.
On the other hand, Tripura Government has also urged the Centre to link the State’s rail network with Myanmar to access the opportunity of Trans-Asian Network, official sources said here today.
In a letter addressed to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu on April 29, State Transport Minister Manik Dey said there is an opportunity to connect Tripura with the Trans-Asian Network.
According to the letter, the distance between Tripura (Jawaharnagar, district headquarters of Dhalai) and Myanmar is only 257 km if railway track is laid through Mizoram.
“Once the connectivity is established with Myanmar, the State will get a chance to connect with other countries like Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia”, he pointed out in the letter.
Confirming the letters, Dey said he urged two Union Ministers to look into the matter that could change the face of Tripura if the Trans-Asian Network is accessed.
On the Akhaura-Agartala railway extension project, Dey told the media that the Centre has already sanctioned Rs 98 crore for taking up land acquisition process. “Once the money is released, the State Government will push land acquisition process for the project”, he said.
On the BG train service, Dey said daily passenger train has already been introduced in between Silchar and Agartala. “Full-fledged train service will be flagged only after the Assembly election process in Assam ends”, he said.