GUWAHATI, Sept 4 - As part of the effort to provide better connectivity in the region and integrate the Railways with the development process of the government, the Railway Ministry has decided to fast-track projects in Assam and the Northeast, with work on double-tracking scheduled to start from next week, while sanction for a second rail bridge over the Brahmaputra river at Saraighat is also expected soon.
Addressing a press meet here today, Union Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain termed the doubling of railway tracks as removal of a critical bottleneck in Assam. �The rail line doubling will start from Hojai and the foundation stone will be laid on September 12 by the Chief Minister and me,� he said.
�Within this month itself work (on doubling of tracks) on the other sections such as Bongaigaon to Guwahati via Goalpara will also start. A final location survey (FLS) is also going on for the Bongaigaon-Agyathuri section via Rangia and once this is finished, doubling of tracks on this section will also start,� Gohain said.
The minister added that survey is going on for a second rail bridge at Saraighat over the Brahmaputra. �We expect the sanction to come this year itself and work will start from next year,� he said, adding that another rail bridge over the Brahmaputra at Silghat connecting Tezpur is also under consideration.
Gohain said that surveys have also been approved for new routes in the Salona-Khumtai, Sivasagar-Jorhat and Tezpur-Silghat sections.
The minister said that Rs 7,000 crore has been allocated this year to Northeast India for various railway projects. He also added that the tender process for electrification work from New Jalpaiguri to Guwahati has been carried out. A �Rail Neer� water bottling plant will be set up at Jagiroad and land is being surveyed for exact location, he said.
Gohain said that plans are afoot for a high-end Northeast Safari Train to promote tourism in the region. �I am having the first interaction with Tourism Secretaries of the northeastern states on this matter on September 10 in Guwahati,� he said.
The minister said the Guwahati and Agyathuri railway stations will be upgraded on PPP mode to world class stations. �This is under process. Till the matter is finalised in the near future, the Guwahati station will be upgraded and an executive lounge with airport type facilities will be constructed very soon. Several other stations such as Lumding and Tinsukia will also be upgraded soon,� he said.
The minister added that several new trains have been approved and will start very soon. �These include two full Satabdi trains from Tinsukia to Guwahati and from Naharlagun to Guwahati. A fully AC 3-tier train will also start from Guwahati to Bengaluru via Kolkata,� he added.
The minister said the government has launched a new insurance scheme under which all confirmed and RAC rail passengers will get travel insurance of up to Rs 10 lakh on a premium of only 92 paise.
On freight movements that have been delayed due to siding and terminal bottlenecks, Gohain said �a new policy has been started where private parties can now have their own sidings and terminals for freight movements.�