AGARTALA, July 31 - Tripura has been brought into the country�s broad gauge (BG) railway map with Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu flagging off the Agartala-New Delhi Tripura Sundari Express here on Sunday amidst cheers.
The foundation stone for the much-awaited railway track to link Agartala to Akhaura in Bangladesh was jointly laid by Prabhu and his Bangladesh Railways Minister Md Mujibul Haque in presence of State Chief Minister Manik Sarkar.
Addressing the gathering, Prabhu said Delhi is no longer a so-far destination from Agartala after introduction of Tripura Sundari Express train.
�A regular train service between Agartala and Kolkata would be started next month. Kolkata is the cultural capital of the country and Tripura has a long historic connection with it,� he said.
On the Agartala-Akhoura railway link, Prabhu said it would be part of Trans-Asian rail connectivity. �We are committed to bring connectivity with Bangladesh. The relations between India and Bangladesh is very cordial and they (Bangladesh) are cooperative in our initiatives,� he said.
The rail track here would be extended to Sabroom, the southern-most town in the State, which is only 75 km from Chittagong port in Bangladesh.
�Chittagong port is the best port in Asia. We want to connect Indian Railways track with Chittagong port through Sabroom,� Prabhu pointed out.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said, is very keen to make Northeastern region a tourist hub. �We want to develop railway network in the entire North East and want to make it a tourist hub. We want to bring Bangladesh into the same tourist circuit,� Prabhu said.
Speaking at the function, Haque said, �We will always respect the people of India for giving us support and shelter during our Liberation Movement. We want people-to- people contact. Our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked me to convey our love and respect to the people of India�.
Bangladesh has now decided to launch a new train between Khulna and Kolkata in addition to the Maitri Express train that plies between Dhaka and Kolkata.
In his speech, the Chief Minister recalled the struggle for bringing BG train service to the State capital. �Today is a historic moment for all of us. Bringing BG train service to Agartala is the result of a long struggle and movement�, he said.
Giving full-scale praise to the Railways officials for the commendable task, Sarkar said, �We want the BG train service to be extended up to Sabroom within stipulated time and also speedy completion of the 15-km Indo-Bangla railway project�.
PWD Minister Badal Chowdhury and Transport Minister Manik Dey also spoke on the occasion.