New Delhi, March 27 (IANS) Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu on Friday inaugurated the landmark Lumding-Silchar broad gauge rail line by flagging off a goods train from here over video-conference, bringing Assam's underdeveloped Barak Valley on the broad guage map.
Passenger train services on this route will start soon.
The 210-km line is expected to change the landscape of the Barak Valley. It will later be extended to Tripura.
The line, considered a lifeline for the entire region, is crucial for the supply of foodgrains, fertilizers, petroleum products and other essentials from the rest of India.
The minister said opening the Lumding-Silchar line marked a historical day and he was happy to be a part of this history.
It will accelerate development as it is the "lifeline of Barak Valley and the states of Tripura, Manipur and Mizoram", Prabhu said after flagging off the goods train.
"I have flagged off a goods train and soon passenger train services will also start... This will also ensure movement of essential commodities like foodgrains, fertilizers and petroleum products in this area."
The Lumding-Silchar line is a milestone for connectivity in the northeast region and one of the largest gauge conversion projects of Indian Railways. It cost Rs.3,500 crore.
The project was completed despite difficult hilly terrain, geologically unstable hills and law and order challenges. A number of railway employees died while working on the project.
After gauge conversion of the Guwahati-Lumding line in 1994, the transhipment point got shifted from Guwahati to Lumding.
The Lumding-Silchar Gauge Conversion Project under the Northeast Frontier Railway was sanctioned in 1996-97 and was declared a National Project in 2004.
The project was hit by insurgency from 2006 to 2009. The Territorial Army had to be deployed to take on the insurgents.