New rail link to connect Agartala with Bangladesh town
Dhaka: The construction work on a 10-kilometre railway track directly linking southeastern Akhaura town in Bangladesh with Agartala, the capital of Indian state of Tripura, is set to begin later this year.
"Both India and Bangladesh are moving fast to establish the train connectivity," Director General of Railway Towhidul Anwar Chowdhury told a newspaper.
With the establishment of the new link, Tripura and part of northeast India will be connected to the Chittagong Port in Bangladesh through railway.
Communications ministry officials say the new rail link, to be constructed with Indian grant, will open up huge opportunities for both the countries, especially in trade, tourism and communications.
India will be able to transport goods through the rail link by using the seaport, while Bangladesh will gain financial benefit by charging them for using the railway and port facilities.
India has been pressing for the rail link as it will also reduce distance between Agartala and Kolkata.
However, the rail link is mainly aimed at freight services, the newspaper said on Thursday.
There is also a road link between Akhaura of Brahmanbaria and Agartala. The Dhaka-Agartala bus service, introduced in 2003, operates through this route.
It runs irregularly and hardly yields any benefit, officials said.
The two countries have already finalised alignment of the rail tracks and are now determining construction cost as well as the modus operandi of the train service.
Chowdhury said Bangladesh has endorsed an alignment that connects Gangasagar, a small train station in Akhaura, and Agartala for the new route. The route was finalised in October last year.
"Both the countries will determine the cost and modus operandi of construction of the tracks after the central government endorses the route," said Iftekharul Islam, additional secretary of the communications ministry.
Gangasagar and Agartala, both about five kilometres from the international border, will be linked through metre gauge line. But the option for a broad gauge line will also be there.
The rail connectivity is taking place as per the agreement between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh during her visit to India in January last year.
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