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Train on new Assam BG line carries Bengal potatoes : NFR Silchar Agartala BG work in progress, new lifeline for Tripura
TIWN
Train on new Assam BG line carries Bengal potatoes : NFR  Silchar Agartala BG work in progress, new lifeline for Tripura
PHOTO : BG Train on its way to Silchar. TIWN Photo

GUWAHATI / AGARTALA, March 28 (TIWN): Assam's underdeveloped Barak Valley was brought on the broad gauge rail map on Friday, with the inaugural goods train carrying about 2,300 tonnes of potatoes from West Bengal.Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu inaugurated the landmark Lumding-Silchar line by flagging off the goods train over video-conference from New Delhi, bringing cheers in the valley, officials said. The Lumding-Silchar connection is a milestone in the northeast region and one of the largest gauge conversion projects of Indian Railways. It cost Rs.3,500 crore. Passenger train services on this 210-km route will start soon.Northeast Frontier Railway spokesman S. Lahiri said in Guwahati that the train chugged into the pristine Barail Hills.The line is expected to change the landscape of the Barak Valley. It will later be extended to Tripura.

The line, a lifeline for the entire region, is crucial for the supply of foodgrain, fertilizers, petroleum products and other essentials from the rest of India.

The line has 21 tunnels and 79 major bridges. While the longest tunnel is about 3.2 km long, it has the magnificent Dayang Bridge - 54 metres tall.

The minister said Friday was a historical day. The line will speed up development as it is the "lifeline of Barak Valley and the states of Tripura, Manipur and Mizoram", Prabhu said. 

"I have flagged off a goods train and soon passenger train services will also start." 

The project was completed despite difficult hilly terrain, geologically unstable hills and law and order challenges. A number of railway employees died while working on the project. 

The Guwahati-Lumding route became a broad gauge line in 1994. The Lumding-Silchar project was sanctioned in 1996-97 and declared a National Project in 2004. 

The project was hit by insurgency from 2006 to 2009. The Territorial Army was deployed to take on the insurgents.

The Lumding-Silchar metre gauge line was commissioned in 1904 to connect Barak Valley with the rest of India. 

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