The Central government has earmarked Rs 100 million for connecting all northeastern state capitals by rail in the next five years, Minister of State for Railways R Velu said in Aizawl.
"Fund constraint would not slow down (the) ongoing railway projects in the region as five of the eight new line projects had been declared national projects and the new projects would add 685 km new lines in the land-locked region," the minister said while speaking at an editors' conference on Monday.
Mizoram Governor Lt. Gen (retd) MM Lakhera inaugurated the two-day conference with focus on the northeast.
The minister said the construction of a 98 km long broad gauge line from Jiribum to Tuipui in Manipur would open up new business opportunities.
"Since the Indo-Myanmar border is 100 km from Tuipui, this new railway line would open new opportunities for trade with Myanmar and other South East Asian countries," the minister said.
Velu also said out of eight new line projects under Northeast Frontier Railway, five have been declared national projects. The anticipated cost involved in these projects is about Rs 5.695 million.
"The railways will convert all metre gauge rail lines in the northeastern region into broad gauge and will start several new lines," he added.
Of the total 2,578 km railway network in the region, 1238.73 km is broad gauge. Of this, 1,227.6 km is in Assam.
Tripura has only 67 km of rail tracks and the Northeast Frontier Railway is laying new line to connect the rail network to state capital Agartala.
Of the rail lines under construction in the state, 21 km is ready to be opened for running passenger trains up to Dhailai district headquarters Ambassa, 90 km from Agartala.
The new railway projects in the region include Kumarghat-Agartala in Tripura, Jiribam-Imphal in Manipur, Dimapur-Zubza in Nagaland, Harmuti-Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh, Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge in Assam and Mainaguri-Joghigopa in Assam, Azra-Byrnihat and Dudhonoi-Deepa lines in Meghalaya.