Agartala : Regular train services would start any time on the newly-laid broad gauge track from Lumding to Silchar in Assam that would provide better connectivity in the mountainous north-eastern region, Tripura Transport Minister Manik Dey said today.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu accompanied by senior officials held a meeting with Dey, who also holds the power portfolio, on Wednesday in New Delhi and discussed various railway projects in the north-eastern region.
"The regular train services on the Lumding-Silchar broad gauge line would start any time. Some technical aspects are being checked up and after that the vital railway line would become operational," Dey told reporters here.
To bring the section in sync with those in the rest of the country, the railways in phase one earlier this year successfully converted the 115- to 120-year-old metre gauge line to broad gauge line that cost around Rs.5,500 crore.
The 210-kilometre-long Lumding-Silchar railway line consists of 21 tunnels (the longest one being 3.23 km long), 79 major bridges and 340 minor bridges, 28 stations and four halt stations.
In the second phase, the Northeast Frontier Railway from Sunday started work to convert the Badarpur-Kumarghat-Agartala section (excluding Badarpur railway station in southern Assam) from metre gauge to broad gauge.
Running of both passenger and goods trains between Badarpur and Agartala section was stopped on September 19. The gauge conversion work would be complete by March 2016.
"We urged the railway minister to ensure the gauge conversion work be completed on time as it is a national project and Tripura depends on it for supplies of essentials, transport fuel and other vital goods from other bigger states," Mr Dey added.
The Tripura minister requested the railway minister to construct at least 14 overbridge, 13 under-bridges and six level crossings on the Badarpur and Agartala section so that running of high-speed trains remains unhindered.
Prabhu on the invitation of the Tripura minister has agreed to visit Tripura during the second week of October to supervise the project.
The Lumding-Silchar-Agartala gauge conversion project was sanctioned in 1996-97 when H.D. Deve Gowda was the prime minister.
It was declared a national project in 2004, ensuring uninterrupted funding from the general budget.
The Lumding-Silchar-Agartala railway line is considered to be the lifeline for Assam, Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur.