Suresh Prabhu flags off first train
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, March 27: It was a historic moment for the people of Assam and the Northeast today, when the first broad gauge goods train in the newly gauge converted Lumding–Silchar section was flagged off by Union Railway minister Suresh Prabhu from New Delhi by remote.
At the Lumding railway station, thousands cheered as the train loaded with about 2,300 tonnes of potatoes from West Bengal, chugged into the pristine Barail Hills.
The metre gauge train operations on this section had been closed since the ‘Mega Block’ from October 1 last year and the Railways have been able to complete the gauge conversion work within the targeted date of March 31, 2015.
Prabhu, while complimenting the NF Railway for completing this difficult project within the stipulated time frame, stated that this will lead to all-round progress and economic development of the region.
The Lumding–Badarpur–Silchar section has a legacy of over a century as the metre gauge line was commissioned in 1904 to connect the Brahmaputra valley to the rest of India. It continues to be the lifeline of southern Assam and the states of Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur, as almost the entire food grain supply to this area takes place through this line.
This gauge conversion has therefore set into motion the process of providing seamless rail connectivity to the people of this area with the rest of the country.
The Lumding–Silchar gauge conversion project was sanctioned in 1996-97 and considering its importance, was accorded the status of a tiol project in 2004. The latest anticipated cost of the project is about Rs 5,500 crore. In phase-1 of the project (costing about Rs 3,500 crore), which is nearing completion, gauge conversion of Lumding-Silchar section of 210 km has been done.
Phase-2 consists of gauge conversion of Badarpur-Kumarghat (118 km) and finger lines Aruchal-Jiribam (50 km), Baraigram-Dullabcherra (29 km) and Karimganj-Mahishasan including Karimganj bypass line (13.5 km). Phase -2 of the project will be completed by March 31 next year.
The Lumding-Silchar section passes through hilly terrain and geologically unstable hills. The broad gauge alignment criss-crosses the MG alignment at 102 locations in the first 100 kms between Lumding and Migrendisa.
Thereafter, the BG alignment detours for 30 kms before joining the MG alignment again near Ditockchera. There have been technical and geological challenges in constructing the tunnels and deep cuttings.
There are 21 tunnels in this section with a total length of 12.86 kms and the longest tunnel (No 10) is 3.2 kms long. The tunnel No.7, tunnel No.10, tunnel No.11 and tunnel No.12 posed numerous geological and other technical problems during construction. There are 79 major bridges, including the magnificent Dayang Bridge, the tallest having a height of 54 metres.