I read this article about India and China being linked by railways and felt happy. As someone who is passionate about the railways, [ travelling from India to London by rail, travelling on the Trans-Siberian railway and travelling from Beijing to Ulan Bator by train are on my bucket list], I was excited. Great, brilliant, outstanding!!!
But reality sunk in. Rail link with China?!!
We have not even connected all our state capitals with railways. Of the seven sisters in the North-East only 2 state capitals are connected by rail – Guwahati and Agartala. Agartala got connected only 3 ½ years ago. The Indian government does have plans to connect all 7 capitals in the next 5 years.
We have not connected our neighbours, Bhutan and Nepal, which would have been far easier a task than connecting China. Of course we have plans and are trying.
As Indian, our focus on infrastructure is prominent by it’s absence. We have just about managed to connect the Kashmir Valley with a railway xxxx years after making the plans.
I know that there is a lot of propaganda that the railways build national integration. I am not so sure about it. What the railways surely does is make it easier and cheaper for people and goods to move around. And by doing that it increases volume of goods being exchanged and the number of people who move around. If moving people and goods around is national integration, then surely the railways does contribute to national integration.
So, what are the plans of the Indian Railways to link the remote and unconnected parts of our great country.
Agartala, the capital just got connected with Kumarghat and the Indian Railway network in June 2008. Trains now regularly ply from Agartala to Lumding and Silchar. This line from Agartala would be extended south to Udaipur, Belonia and Sabroom. This line will finally connect with Chittagong Port from where goods can be supplied to North-East India. There is a plan to connect Agartala to Akhura in Bangladesh and create interchange points at Belonia (Belonia), Agartala (Akhura) and Sabroom (Ramgarh).
Imphal, Manipur’s capital is not rail connected. The closest railway station is Jiribam. There is a plan to connect Jiribam to Tupul and then to Imphal. This line would then be extended to Moreh and link up with the Myanmar Railway and connect to Mandalay. China too is interested in the link between Myanmar and India as it will connect China (Kunming) to India.
There is another link being constructed between Diphu and Karong in the north of Manipur.
Having a rail link will prevent the kind of hardships that the people of Imphal (and Manipur) have to undergo whenever the road is blocked by extremists.
This state has no railways. There is a plan to connect Bhairabi to Sairang, which would be about 35 kms away from Aizwal. Bhairabi is in Assam on the branch line from Katakhal junction.
Nagaland has a railway line with Dimapur being a major station. There is a plan to link Dimapur to Zabza and then to Kohima.
Arunachal Pradesh: There are two lines being planned; one from Murkongsleek to Pasighat and the other from Harmuti to Itanagar, the capital.
There exists a plan to link Shillong by rail via Umroi, Nongpoh, Lailad,Byrnihat to Tetelia or Kamakhya. There exists another plan to build a “circular railway” around Meghalaya starting at Goalpara, going all around Meghalaya and ending at Badarpur. There also exists shorter sections from Dudhnoi to Depa and Dudhnoi to Mendipathar.
Not exactly part of the seven sisters, but a very important, strategic and beautiful part of this great country, there is a plan to link Sevoke Road to Rangpo, the site of a famous distillery. Rangpo is not the capital, but it would provide a rail link to the people of Sikkim.
For more details please click on this link http://wiki.iricen.gov.in/doku/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=11301:vps.pdf
For an excellent photo essay on the railways of north-east India, please click on the link;