Finally, some six years after plans were finalized, the India-Bangladesh railway project is going ahead. The rail line, which will cost Rs 580 crore ($84 million) will be a vital link between two major transport hubs, Agartala and Akhaura. The line will stretch for 15 kilometers and is expected to be completed by 2017. Two-thirds of the track will fall on Bangladesh’s side with the remaining third in Indian territory.
This has been a pet peeve of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina since January 2010, when she met Manmohan Singh, her equivalent in India. The pair laid the foundations for the ambitious project upon meeting on the Prime Minister’s two-day visit to New Delhi.
The line is also important in the wider Trans-Asian Railway Network, which will connect the South Asian nations with Europe, passing through India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The Indian government is committed to paying the full cost of the construction. State-owned IRCON (Indian Railway Construction Company) will complete the track.
The rail line will greatly improve connectivity between the two nations, advancing trade ties. Technical experts have already been to the site and decided a 3.7 km long flyover will be constructed along the five km stretch on the Indian side, which will save agricultural land. As it stands, Bangladesh and India have four rail links through West Bengal.
The 1,650 km distance between Agartala and Kolkata on the Indian side, would be reduced to 550 km after the railway extension is completed. Part of the total cost was due to land acquisition in Tripura, an area of 97.7 acres, which cost Rs. 302 crore around $43 million.