New railways to link four South Asian countries

shutterstock_211891252A series of new cross-border railways are being planned to connect India with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

India’s Ministry of Railways has said that a series of studies have already been conducted into the new lines.

The most challenging of these projects would be to Bhutan, which does not currently have any railway lines. But Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) says that feasibility studies have been conducted for the project. Bhutan borders the Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

For Nepal, work is already underway on an 18.6km cross-border railway line connecting the Indian city of Jogbani, in the state of Bihar, with the Nepalese city of Biratnagar.

But the most extensive connectivity is likely to be between India and Bangladesh. NFP is reportedly planning a new cross-border link to Bangladesh from Agartala, the capital of the remote Indian state of Tripura. This will form part of the Trans-Asian Railway network and will significantly reduce the overland travelling time between northeast India and the rest of the country.

For example, the existing rail journey between Agartala and Kolkata, which circles around Bangladesh, is 1,613km. But this will be slashed by around 900km following the launch of the new line.

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