A Bangladeshi train hauling four cargo-laden wagons made its way into Nischintpur railway station, situated one kilometer within the Indian territory of Tripura from the India-Bangladesh border. The trial operation of this goods train marked a resounding success on the recently constructed 15.064-kilometer-long Akhaura (Bangladesh)-Agartala (Tripura, India) rail link project, according to railway officials.
On Monday, the inaugural trial run of a cargo train marked a significant milestone in connecting Northeast India and Bangladesh. The journey commenced at the Gangasagar railway station in Bangladesh and concluded in Nischintapur, Tripura. According to official reports, the ongoing construction of the Indo-Bangla international railway link via the Agartala-Akhaura route has incurred an expenditure of Rs 862.5 crore.
Notably, the Akhaura-Agartala railway line, comprising 5.05 kilometers in India and 10.014 kilometers in Bangladesh, is linked to Bangladesh’s Akhaura railway station through an international immigration station at Nischintapur in western Tripura. This monumental project, funded by India, is managed by the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) and comes with a budget of Rs 1,000 crore.
The Agartala-Akhaura railway line, designed to facilitate both passenger and goods interchange, will significantly enhance connectivity between India and Bangladesh. It promises to be a game-changer for the people of the northeastern states, particularly Tripura, as well as the southern regions of Assam and Mizoram, who will be able to reach Kolkata by rail while saving a staggering 22 hours of travel time.
The Indian Railways section of the project employs a broad gauge system, while the portion in Bangladesh operates on a meter gauge system. Presently, residents of the region, particularly those in Tripura and nearby areas, travel to Kolkata via Guwahati, a journey that takes over 38 hours.
The Agartala-Akhaura railway project is an integral part of India’s ‘Act East Policy,’ a strategic initiative aimed at fostering economic cooperation and strengthening ties with countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The northeastern region holds a priority status within this policy framework.
This historic railway connection stands as the first direct rail link between India’s northeast and Bangladesh, despite the existence of a few rail links between West Bengal and Bangladesh, including Gede-Darshana, Benapole-Petrapole, Singhabad-Rohanpur, Radhikapur-Birol, and Haldibari-Chilahati. The existing rail route from Agartala to Kolkata spans approximately 1600 kilometers, crossing mountainous terrain and taking around 40 hours to complete.
The opening of this new railway line is expected to boost passenger traffic from Tripura, southern Assam, Mizoram, and adjacent regions to Kolkata, with numerous factors like linguistic similarity, medical services, educational opportunities, business prospects, and tourism playing a role.