Indian Railways pushes North-East connectivity via Bangladesh and Nepal

The Indian Railways will look to connect the North East with rest of the country through two neighbouring countries – Bangladesh and Nepal – thereby reducing travel time to the region, according to government sources.

These routes will look to avoid the `Chicken Neck’ region in the Siliguri area of West Bengal. The Final Location Survey (FLS) sanctioned by the Railway Board is around 1275.50 km.

“FLS for 14 new railway connectivity routes connecting Bangladesh, Nepal and alternate routes towards North-East have been sanctioned,” an official in the Railway Ministry told businessline.

Of the survey ordered, new railway lines connecting Bangladesh will be around 500 kms while gauge conversion will be around 367 km. In Nepal, over 200 km of new lines will be laid; while in the North East there will be another 212 km of lines being laid, that include.

Segment-wise break up

Nearly 250 km of new lines will come up along West Bengal – Bangladesh – Meghalaya route ( Balurghat – Hili – Gaibandha – Mahendraganj – Tura – Mendipathar segment ). In two sections of the West Bengal – Bangladesh route, 80 km and 60 km of new railway lines will come up, respectively.

In another segment connecting West Bengal to Assam via Bamanhat in Bangladesh, 38 km of new railway line will be laid; while for Balurghat – Hili – Parbatipur – Kaunia – Lalmanirhat – Mogalhat – Gitaldaha section (an existing India – Bangladesh trade route) 18 kms of new lines will be laid.

Proposed Belonia – Feni – Chottogram trade route will have 38 km of new railway lines.

Gauge conversion will happen in all these sections.. Other major segments like two West Bengal – Bangladesh – Tripura routes (Gede – Darsana – Akhaura – Agartala and Petrapole – Benapole – Nabharon – Jessore – Rupdia – Padmabila – Lohagara – Kashiani – Shibchar – Mawa – Nimtala – Gendaria – Dhaka – Tongi – Bhairab Bazar – Akhaura – Agartala ) will require 100 km and 120 km of gauge conversions respectively.

Other new routes

Improved connectivity between India and Nepal will include construction of 190km of new lines between Biratnagar – New Mal; and another 12.5 km of new lines in Galgalia – Bhadrapur – Kajali Bazar section, the source said.

In West Bengal (improving connectivity in the Chicken Neck region) 170 km new railway line construction will happen in Kumedpur – Ambari Falakata segment; in Bihar (Purnea’s Forbesganj) some 18 km of new tracks will be laid to improve connectivity to Bangladesh’s Lakshamipur; while 25 kms of new line will be to improve connectivity between Bengal and Bihar through the Chicken-neck region.

“These will speed up trade connectivity, and also push passenger services along the region,” a Railway official.

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