In tune with the Act East policy to boost ties with South Asian neighbours through Northeastern region, the Indian Railways have completed ground work for extending rail connectivity to Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
The proposed Agartala (Tripura)-Akhaura (Bangladesh) international rail link, besides being a part of the Trans Asian Railway network7, would also provide a much shorter connectivity from Tripura to Kolkata via Bangladesh. This railway line with connect India through the Northeast to Ashuganj and Chittagong Port of Bangladesh. The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) already has connectivity with Bangladesh at Singhabad while works were in progress to connect Radhikapur and Haldibari.
The Railways have carried out feasibility study for extending Rail head to Bhutan at five locations and the final decision for starting construction would be taken by the Government of India once the Ministry of External Affairs accomplish its part of responsibility to set the project on roll. Meanwhile, Indian Railways Construction Corporation (IRCON) is constructing a Broad Gauge (BG) line of 18.69 km length from Jogbani (India) to Biratnagar in Nepal. Survey works have been started for extending the rail head from Manipur’s Imphal to Moreh on Myanmar border to get connected with the Trans Asian railway network. However, 100 km strength within Myanmar beyond Moreh point has to be connected to achieve the objective.
The Railways hope that the Government of India would take up with Myanmar authorities to facilitate construction of railway line on that 100 km unconnected stretch within the neighbouring country. The Railways have accorded priority to expedite its track expansion and other construction projects in the insurgency-hit Northeast and other naxals affected areas in the country. Further, the Railways is soon expected to introduce a modern tourists train for the Northeast and the circuit is being explored in consultation with tourism departments of all the Northeastern states. Track electrification from New Jalpaiguri to Guwahati will be started within two months. The project will cost estimated Rs 650 crore.