New Delhi: Railway connectivity between Agartala and New Delhi was finally achieved with launch of ‘Tripura Sundari Express’ train on Sunday. Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu flagged off the train in the presence Bangladesh Railways Minister Md. Mazibul Hoque.
Mr. Prabhu and Mr. Hoque also laid foundation stone of India–Bangladesh Board Gauge Rail link between Agartala and Akhaura in Bangladesh, in the historic event overseen by Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, MoS for Railways Rajen Gohain, host of Tripura State ministers and top rail officials of both countries.
Thousands of people gathered at Agartala railway station to witness the event. Railway ministers of both countries spoke at length about existing friendly relations between India and Bangladesh, and felt need of more cooperation that can benefit trade, commerce and tourism. “I am inviting Md Mazibul Hoque to New Delhi for further deliberations on mutually beneficial issues”, Mr. Prabhu stated.
He said Bangladesh would be convinced to reopen the British era rail link between Belonia in south Tripura and Feni in southeast Bangladesh. Ministers and MPs of Tripura were insisting of reviving pre independence rail connectivity across the border.
Mr Prabhu assured of looking into matters concerning northeast India and said the railways can help making the region a tourist hub. He assured of introducing Agartala–Kolkata direct train service within August.
Chief Minister Manik Sarkar spent time to recap history of popular movement for rail connectivity in Tripura despite all odds over a period of 60 years. He lashed out at the successive governments at the centre for “ repeatedly ignoring aspirations of people of Tripura.”
The weekly Tripura Sundari Express to Anand Vihar station of New Delhi would run from Agartala on Thursdays and would make return journey on Mondays. It would make 18 stoppages in 48 hours-long journey.
The ambitious India–Bangladesh rail project was mooted in 2012 and both countries signed a MoU in February 2013 to create 15.06km line of which 10km falls in Bangladesh.
India would bear entire expenditure for Rs.968 crore estimated project. Rs.148 crore has been allocated in 2015–16 Budget of the union government.