Rail Budget 2013: Wait for electric trains in India's North-East gets longer

The inclusion of Arunachal Pradesh in the country's railway map albeit in a small way is the only highlight that North-East India could cheer about in the budget that Union Minister for Railways Pawan Kumar Bansal presented today in Parliament. There was no talk of electrification of routes, which the people in the region, have been waiting for decades.

"For the first time the state of Arunachal Pradesh has been brought into the rail network and we shall commission the Harmuti-Naharlagun line this year," Bansal said in his speech. The distance between Harmuti in Assam to Naharlagun in Arunachal Pradesh is 23 km.

Union Minister for Railways Pawan Kumar Bansal. Image courtesy PIB

Union Minister for Railways Pawan Kumar Bansal. Image courtesy PIB

"Also I am happy to inform that works on the new line railway project to connect state of Manipur are in full swing. We are also fast tracking the gauge conversion works on Lumding-Silchar and Rangia-Murkongselek," the minister said.

While Manipur is an ongoing project for the railways, no surveys for new lines have been proposed in the Rail Budget 2013-14.

Although a single main line track inevitably delays a number of trains in the North-East, the doubling a tracks has been up to the mark in the region. In the latest Rail Budget, only a small stretch between New Bongaigaon to Kamakhya via Rangia, has got approval for a parallel track.

The poor fiscal condition of the railways is apparent as no allocation of funds for ongoing projects like the Bogibeel bridge on the Brahmaputra river got approved. The foundation of the Bogibeel bridge was laid by then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002. The Bogibeel bridge will be the longest rail-cum-road bridge in the country at 4.94 km and will connect the north and southern banks of the Brahmaputra.

The entire North-East got only three new express trains this time around: Jodhpur - 1. Kamakhya (Guwahati) Express (Weekly) Via Degana, Ratangarh, 2. Kamakhya (Guwahati) - Anand VIhar Express (Weekly) Via Katihar, Barauni, Sitapur Cantt, Moradabad and 3. Rajendra Nagar Terminus (Patna)- New Tinsukia Express (Weekly) Via Katihar, Guwahati.

While no frequency of existing trains running in or connecting the North-East got increased, two trains Guwahati-Ernakulam Express was extended up to Thiruvananthapuram and the Lalgarh- Guwahati Express got extended to New Tinsukia.

The railway minister said that the Parsuramkund-Rupai sector in Assam has been identified as a project of national importance and he will pursue for its approval.

"With a view to contributing to the national skill development programme of the government, Ministry of Railways would impart skills to the youth in railway related trades in 25 locations spread across the length and breadth of the country," Bansal said in his speech.

Among the 25 places-Agartala (Tripura), Dimapur (Nagaland), Imphal (Manipur), Lumding (Assam) and Naharlagun (Arunachal Pradesh)-are from the North-East.

Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 16:12 PM