GUWAHATI, July 18 - Travel time between New Bongaigaon and Guwahati will get reduced by almost two-thirds once the doubling of the railway track in the New Bongaigaon-Agthori via Rangiya section is completed.
Sources in the Indian Railways told this newspaper today that work on the Rs 2042.51-crore project is expected to start in October. The process for floating of tenders and selection of agencies that will work on the track doubling scheme in the 142.97-km long section will commence soon.
�We want to ensure that actual work on the ground commences as soon as the ongoing monsoon season is over and the dry weather sets in. We are expecting the work to begin by October,� a senior official told The Assam Tribune.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had yesterday given its approval to construct the second track in the New Bongaigaon-Agthori section.
Northeast Frontier Railway (Construction Organisation) will execute the project. The CCEA has fixed 2022-23 as the timeline for completion of the doubling project.
�Traffic survey, final location survey and preparation of DPR have already been carried out. Locations of bridges, central line, gradients, alignments and stations have also been finalised. What remains to be done is execution of the project. For that, tender will soon be invited and agencies selected. While Railway engineers will supervise the work and give a green signal at each stage of the project, the actual execution on the ground is always done by private contractors,� said the official.
Sources added that maximum time and resources will have to be spent in the construction of new bridges across rivers like Beki and Pagladia as many rivers flowing down from Bhutan passes through the alignment of the New Bongaigaon-Agthori section.
�A major bottleneck will be removed once doubling in this section is completed. While the Bogibeel Bridge removed the gridlock in upper Assam, the important New Bongaigaon-Agthori section is still being served by a single line. Once the second track is ready, the practice of trains stopping at stations to allow one another to cross in the opposite direction will stop for ever. Punctuality will improve. More trains could be introduced. Freight services will also gain,� said an official.
He added, �Travelling time from New Bongaigaon to Guwahati will go down to one hour as against three hours now.�
The Assam Rail Passengers� Association (ARPA), which has been fighting for doubling in the section for many years, said the utilisation capacity of the existing single track in the section has reached almost 200 per cent.
�Doubling of the New Bongaigaon-Agthori section was a long-pending demand of the people of Assam and the entire North East. After a decades-long wait, the CCEA approval has finally come. We hope there will be no delay or time escalation in execution of work. Once completed, it will help both passengers and freight traffic and remove congestion. The old abandoned meter gauge track already exists in the section. So, the Railways only needs to carry out material alteration for the project. Any delay will be inexcusable. We also hope that the Central government will allocate the funds on time so that the deadline is met,� said Dipankar Sharma, secretary of ARPA.