Railway services in northeast partially restored


Silchar/Agartala : The railway services between southern Assam and other states in the region were partially restored, connecting Tripura, Manipur and Mizoram with rest of the country a month after landslides damaged tracks, an official said Wednesday.

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Train services were suspended in the region June 25 following heavy rains and landslides that damaged large stretches of railway tracks, bridges, tunnels and adjoining areas in southern Assam’s mountainous Dima Hasao district, around 300 km from Guwahati, Assam’s main city.

“The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) authority has decided to resume services of one or two goods trains in this region. Normal services would be restored by this month end,” an NFR spokesperson told reporters at Silchar, southern Assam’s main commercial city.

“The restored tracks might not take the pressure of many trains for a few days, but we hope to restore normal services by July 30 or July 31,” the official said.

The engineers, employees and workers of the NFR’s Lumding division have been working round-the-clock over the past month to clear the debris and restored over 300 metres of rail tracks, the spokesperson said, adding that senior officials have been camping in the area to supervise the work.

The landslides at about 90 places, following incessant rains, have in some places washed away or damaged nearby surface roads in mountainous Dima Hasao district, formerly North Cachar Hills district.

The Dima Hasao district connects Tripura’s capital Agartala and parts of Manipur, Mizoram and southern Assam with the rest of India by a single 108-year-old metre-gauge railway track.

The foundation stone for conversion of this metre-gauge track to broad-gauge was laid by former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda in January 1996. The cost of the project has now mounted to Rs.2,800 crore from Rs.648 crore in 1996.

The suspension of train services has severely hit supplies of essential commodities and food grain, increasing their prices. The region is heavily dependent on the supplies of rice, essential commodities and vital items from other parts of the country.

“The Tripura food and civil supplies department has in separate letters requested the Food Corporation of India and the union ministry of food and civil supplies to ensure immediate stocks of essentials, specially rice,” an official of the Tripura government told IANS.

In June-July 2010, railway traffic was disrupted for 34 days after a 300-metre track between Harangajao and Mailongdisa, 78 km from southern Assam’s main city, Silchar, was washed away by heavy landslides.