Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Thursday flagged-off passenger train services in the Dharmanagar-Agartala-Sabroom section connecting a border town along Bangladesh and the state's second largest commercial town adjoining Assam.
The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) after introducing the Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) train services last year in eastern Assam's industrial areas Dibrugarh and central Assam's Nagaon, launched the services in Tripura, the second northeastern state.
With the extension of train services up to Sabroom (135 km south of Agartala), the seven northeastern states now would be able to access Bangladesh's Chittagong international sea port, which is just around 70 km from Tripura, for carrying goods and machinery avoiding the existing surface roads passing through the mountainous terrain.
The NFR's Chief Public Relations Officer, Subhanan Chanda said that the DEMU trains' inherent advantages with quick acceleration and retardation provisions make them ideal to ply as shuttles between stations located at short intervals.
"As the DEMU trains, already plying in metropolitan and busiest cities in the country, can ply in both directions, it does not require any cumbersome reversal at terminal stations. The coaches are also better adopted with more seating capacity," he added.
There will be eight coaches in each DEMU train to be plied twice a day in the Dharmanagar-Agartala-Sabroom section.
The NFR, one among the 17 railway zones in India, is responsible for extending the railway lines and maintaining train services in seven districts of West Bengal and five districts in north Bihar, besides the eight northeastern states, including Sikkim.
The NFR has laid new railway tracks at three places along the India-Bangladesh border -- Agartala, Sabroom and Belonia.
The Rs 972-crore Agartala (Tripura) and Akhaura (Bangladesh) project is now under construction and these railway lines would facilitate the carriage of passengers and goods from the northeastern states through the Bangladesh railway network.
Spending Rs 1,150 crore, the NFR has extended the 110-km railway lines up to two bordering sub-divisional towns -- Sabroom and Belonia -- both cities situated along the Bangladesh border, facilitating the link with the railway networks of the neighbouring country.
With southern Tripura's Sabroom located around 70 km from the Chittagong sea port in southeastern Bangladesh, India has already got Bangladesh's in-principle consent to use the international port to ferry goods to and from the northeastern states.
A senior official said that the NFR is trying hard to extend the railway lines to three more capital cities of the northeast -- Imphal (Manipur), Aizawl (Mizoram) and Kohima (Nagaland) by 2020.
Assam's main city of Guwahati, Tripura capital Agartala and Arunachal capital Itanagar are already linked to the railway network.
He said that due to land-related problems, the expansion of the rail network in Meghalaya and Sikkim has turned into a non-starter.