Historic Inauguration of Agartala-Akhaura Railway Project

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A decade after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Bangladesh to establish the first railway project in NE India in 2013, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina jointly inaugurated the project from New Delhi and Dhaka. Both leaders attended the event virtually.

During his inaugural speech, Modi highlighted the signing of the Indo-Bangla land boundary agreement and resolution of the maritime boundary issue by his government. He emphasized the importance of infrastructure development and connectivity between the two countries. Referring to India as “Bangladesh’s biggest development partner”, Modi noted that the strengthened bilateral ties have also benefitted Bangladesh’s energy sector and regional connectivity.

Tripura Chief Minister, Dr , who joined the event virtually from Agartala, emphasized the project’s significance for connectivity in the NE region and its potential to make Tripura a gateway for tourism.

“Tripura is poised to become the gateway for tourism and transport between India and Bangladesh. With the establishment of the Agartala-Akhaura railway project, the distance between Agartala and will effectively reduce from 1,600 km to 500 km now,” he said.

Detailing connectivity development in the NE region under the project, Saha mentioned the redevelopment of 508 railway stations in the country, 91 of which are in NE India.

“Foundation stones were laid for redeveloping these 91 stations for Rs 5,100 crore. In Tripura, Dharmanagar, Udaipur, and Kumarghat, railway stations are being redeveloped under this scheme with an investment of Rs 96.6 crore. Agartala Railway Station is being developed under World Class Station Scheme with Rs 235.45 crore,” Saha said.

The CM expressed gratitude to Modi, Railway Minister, and for the Indo-Bangla railway connectivity, and stated that the project would strengthen friendship between the two nations.

The Agartala-Akhaura railway line, which is 12.24 km long, extends 5.46 km on the Indian side and 6.78 km in Akhaura upazila of Bangladesh’s Bahmanbaria district. The project, which had its MoU signed in 2013, began with Rs 972.52 crore in 2016, and the final project cost is estimated at Rs 1,255.1 crore, with Rs 862.58 crore allocated for works on the Indian side alone.

Tripura shares an 856 km-long international border with Bangladesh, the second longest border between these two countries of any Indian state after West Bengal.

The project is funded by the Government of India, with the Ministry for Development of North East Region (DoNER) funding the work on the Indian side, and the Ministry of External Affairs funding the expense for Bangladesh’s side. Indian Railway Construction International Limited, a public sector undertaking of the Indian Railways, did the work on the Indian side, and Texmaco implemented the work on the Bangladesh side. 86.85 acres were acquired for the project on the Indian side and handed over to IRCON.

The inauguration follows a trial for a goods train conducted along the route on Monday. After the trial run, it was indicated that passenger trains will likely begin later based on discussions between the governments of both countries.

The trial run paved the way for connectivity between Gangasagar and Bangladesh’s last railway station before India on this route, and Nischintapur, the last Indian railway station before the border. After the trial run for passenger services are completed, full-fledged train services between Agartala-Akhaura and Agartala-Chittagong are expected to commence.

A senior official from the Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) also mentioned that a trial for passenger trains might be conducted soon.

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