On November 1, the dream of an international rail link connecting Agartala in Tripura and Ahaura in Bangladesh took a big step towards reality. As reported by The Hindu, the successful completion of trial runs of a freight train on a 10.5 km line is a promising milestone for this ambitious project. During Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India in 2010, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to launch the first international Indo-Bangla railway project. The agreement lays the foundation for the long-awaited rail link between the two countries. There has been no official announcement regarding the opening of this railway line, but reports suggest that it may start soon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina are expected to jointly launch the project in virtual mode. Smita Pant, India’s joint secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs for Bangladesh and Myanmar, emphasized the importance of this rail line and noted that it will be the sixth high-speed rail link with Bangladesh and preparations are underway for the seventh rail link with Assam. The project was scheduled to be completed in 2020, but was delayed due to land security issues and the COVID-19 outbreak. The completion of the project marks a significant development in India’s efforts to improve connectivity with its neighbours. Several tests were conducted in recent weeks before the latest successful test. According to railway officials, this project, which was originally scheduled to be completed in June 2023, has been delayed due to construction issues. However, it appears that these obstacles have been overcome and the railway is now available.
Strengthening Regional Connectivity
The importance of this rail link cannot be overemphasized for Tripura and other parts of Northeast India, which often face connectivity issues due to geographical isolation. This new rail link is expected to reduce the travel time between Kolkata and Tripura via Dhaka from 31 hours to 10 hours. Successful completion of the project will transform the region’s transportation landscape, spur economic growth and improve accessibility. The successful trial run of the Agartala-Ahaura rail project on November 1 is a milestone. The circuit, which measures 5.46 km and 10.5 km on the Indian side, has been in operation for several years. The project has been delayed due to several challenges, including land acquisition issues and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Boosting Trade and Commerce
The impact of this rail link is not limited to facilitating passenger transport. It is poised to revolutionize trade and commerce in the region. It provides a direct link between the landlocked northeastern region of India and the Bangladeshi port of Chittagong, an important commercial and trade hub in the region.
As India and Bangladesh improve connectivity through this rail link, it will pave the way for improved cross-border trade, reduced transport costs and enhanced economic cooperation. The commissioning of the Agartala-Ahaura railway line is a testament to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Look East Policy’ to promote growth, cultural exchange and close ties between the two countries.
Once completed, the Agartala-Ahaura rail link has the potential to transform the economic landscape of the region and provide new opportunities for trade, tourism and growth. As the project enters its next phase, it promises to bring prosperity and connectivity to the heart of South Asia and strengthen ties between India and Bangladesh.