New Delhi, Nov 21: Barak Valley was brought on the broad gauge rail map on Saturday, with Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu flagging off the iugural passenger train - through video conferencing - in a long-awaited development that is expected to boost the region's economy.
The valley, home to over 35 lakh people and which borders Bangladesh, is one of the most neglected and underdeveloped parts of Assam due to lack of adequate connectivity.
"We are working expeditiously to connect all capitals of Northeastern states with rail network. Earlier this year, Itagar was connected through a direct train with the tiol capital. Also, the entire North Bank of Brahmaputra has been brought on broad gauge with the commissioning of the Rangiya-Rangapara-North Lakhimpur - Murkongselek (510 km) gauge conversion project. Mega Block for conversion of Badarpur-Kumarghat-Agartala section has been taken with effect from October 1 this year," he said.
Connection of Silchar by BG railway line would not only benefit the people of Barak Valley, but would lead to opening of new vistas in connection to the hitherto isolated states of Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur.
"It is a historic moment that people of south Assam are getting important railway connectivity with rest of the tion. Today, we are introducing a new train between Guwahati and Silchar after conversion of Lumding-Silchar metre gauge line into broad gauge. Goods trains are already running in this section since March, 2015. More passenger trains will be introduced in near future. This will fulfill the long cherished demand of the people of Barak Valley to have seamless connectivity," the Railway Minister said.
Agartala, he said, is all set to be on broad gauge by March, 2016.
Along with this, the gauge conversion of Kathakal-Bhairabi (Mizoram) and Aruchal (Station) - Jiribam (Manipur) sections will also be completed and these two states will also come on broad gauge map of the country.
"Railways have been commissioning about 133 km broad gauge track every year in the Northeastern region in last 4-5 years. In 2014-15, a record was made when about 450 km of lines were commissioned. This year again, we are all set to achieve a new record of commissioning of about 550 kilometres of broad gauge lines in this region," he said.
Referring to the excellent relations between India and Bangladesh, Suresh Prabhu said that Indian Railways will also work for better connectivity with Bangladesh.
Prabhu said that the development of infrastructure will also help youth in a big way as they will get better opportunities for skill development etc. The better railway connectivity will also provide better marketing facilities. Railways have been playing a major role in serving the infrastructural needs of the Northeast and will continue to contribute to the socio-economic development of this region.