For a change, Railways complete a project one week before target
The Lumding-Silchar section also serves as vital supply line for Mizoram and Tripura, partially for Manipur, as also the Barak Valley in southern Assam.
Better known for inordinate delays in completing projects, the railways – in this case Northeast Frontier Railways – have achieved a feat of sorts; the final phase of gauge conversion on the challenging 210-km Lumding-Silchar hill section in Assam has been completed at least one week sort of the target date.
The rebuilt track, much of it a new alignment, took its first train – a goods train comprising 42 wagons of potatoes – on Friday from Lumding to Silchar, with union railway minister Suresh Prabhu formally flagging it off, though through remote, from New Delhi. The Lumding-Silchar section had remained closed since September 30 last year with the railways promising to reopen it as a BG track by March 31. Passenger trains are expected to run in the next two weeks.
“It was a feat of sorts, especially with several thousand workmen toiling almost round-the-clock in the last phase that began on October 1 last year, which actually made it possible for the railways to open the new line ahead of the target date. It was indeed a historic movement,” said Dilip Bora, Senior PRO with the NF Railway’s Construction wing.
Flagging off the first goods train union railway minister Suresh Prabhu, while complimenting the NF Railways for completing this difficult project within the stipulated time frame, said that this would lead to all round progress and economic development of the region. The Lumding-Silchar section also serves as vital supply line for Mizoram and Tripura, partially for Manipur, as also the Barak Valley in southern Assam.
The Lumding-Silchar section that passes through hilly terrain and geologically unstable hills has a legacy of over a century as construction of the metre gauge line began in the later part of the 19th century and was commissioned in 1904 to connect the Brahmaputra valley to the rest of India through erstwhile East Bengal (present-day Bangladesh).
“While the original metre gauge section will be always remembered as an engineering marvel of the late 19th century, the new broad gague project is no less especially with the huge technical and geological challenges in constructing the tunnels and deep cuttings. There are 21 tunnels in this section with a total length of 12.86 kms and the longest tunnel is 3.2 kms long. Several tunnels had posed numerous geological and other technical problems during construction which our engineers tackled very successfully,” Bora added.
NF Railway CPRO Sugato Lahiri on the other hand said completion of the section would strengthen the supply of essential foodgrains to the southern region of the Northeast. “Converting into broad gauge, the lifeline of southern Assam and Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur has been immensely strengthened. The gauge conversion has set into motion the process of providing seamless rail connectivity to the people of those areas with the rest of the country,” Lahiri said.
The Lumding-Silchar gauge conversion project was originally sanctioned in 1996-97 but was accorded the status of a National Project only in 2004. The latest total anticipated cost of the project – which includes four smaller portions – has been put at about Rs 5500 crores. While the Phase-1 (210-km Lumding-Silchar section) has been completed at about Rs 3,500 crores, the Phase-2 comprising of gauge conversion of Badarpur-Kumarghat (118 km) and finger lines Arunachal-Jiribam (50 km), Baraigram-Dullabcherra (29 km) and Karimganj-Mahishasan including Karimganj Bye pass line (13.50 km) are expected to be completed by March 2016.
Source:: Indian Express