Northeast Infrastructure: Rail Projects Worth Rs 1 Lakh Crore In Execution By The Railways


The rail network in Northeast is being considered as strategically important for India because it connects all the border states in this region and is also close to the ASEAN countries.

Indian Railways has undertaken several measures and projects to develop and improve connectivity through infrastructure, in the strategically important Northeast region of India.

Completion of rail-cum-road Bogibeel bridge over the mighty Brahmaputra river, introduction of Vande Bharat train to Guwahati and connecting the state capitals of Assam, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh with broad gauge network are some of the milestones achieved under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Since the Northeast region is also considered as Gateway to Southeast Asia, the railway lines hold immense importance for this area. The region currently has 6,829 km of rail network mostly in the state of Assam.

With the vision to connect the remaining state capitals and also increase the line capacity in the region, fund allocation in Northeastern states has been done to the tune of Rs 60,092 crore.

Popularly known as the seven sisters states, the average fund allocation per year for the Northeast region, in the last nine years, is 263 per cent more than the yearly average fund allocation in 2009-14.

The Northeast includes states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura and it also includes the state of Sikkim. These states come under Northeast Frontier Railway Zone of the Indian Railways.

The rail network in Northeast is being considered as strategically important for India because it connects all the border states in this region and is also close to the ASEAN countries.

The work to lay the broad gauge railway line has seen a upward curve with 21 new line projects of 1,641 km, 10 double line projects of 1,209 km and six new line national projects of 419.37 km under construction.

With many rail projects in the pipeline, an investment of more than Rs 1 lakh crore is expected in the region to complete these projects.

Indian Railways has made an all-out effort to bring about uniformity in the rail network, converting a total of 893.82 km of track to broad gauge in the Northeastern region during 2014-2023.

Aiming at further improving rail connectivity, a total of 1,578 km new lines were added, 429.08 km double lines commissioned and survey of 1,578 km new lines were completed in the last nine years.

Indian Railways has further undertaken a series of steps including doubling, laying new tracks, electrification etc that have created large number of jobs in the region for gainful employment of locals and have also transformed the socio-economic landscape of the region.

According to the Railways, the commissioning of the Bogibeel Bridge in 2018 was a moment of pride for this region. The longest rail-cum-road bridge reduced the journey distance from upper Assam to Delhi by 170 km and fulfilled a long time strategic need for rail connectivity across the mighty Brahmaputra in upper Assam.

Mendipathar has become the first and the only railway station in the state of Meghalaya. Shokhuvi, on the other hand, is the second railway station in the state of Nagaland after a gap of more than 100 years.

The state capitals of Manipur, Mizoram and Sikkim are expected to be connected by broad gauge by December 2023. And Kohima, the state capital of Nagaland, is expected to be connected by 2026.

Apart from the new line and doubling works, efforts have also been made to increase railway safety in the region. Northeast Frontier Railway has eliminated all unmanned level crossing gates in the Northeast region.

Safer, more reliable and more comfortable LHB coaches have been introduced in 40 pairs of trains from Northeast.

The Railway system has also been made passenger friendly in the last eight years by providing Divyang toilets in 351 stations, lifts in 15 stations and escalators in nine stations. Apart from these, free high-speed WiFi has been provided at all nominated stations.

Situated at the border, Northeast includes strategic areas to counter China. Under the PM Gati Shakti project which was launched in 2021, with an aim to boost connectivity across the country and to connect all the capitals of Indian state, three capitals — Guwahati, Itanagar and Agartala — are linked with the Railways.

The aim of the government is also to develop tourism in this region, for which the Railways is a major medium. In 2023, various deluxe trains were launched as Bharat Gaurav trains for destinations like Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati, Kaziranga National Park in Assam, Unakoti in Tripura, Cherrapunji in Meghalaya, and Dimapur in Nagaland.