Ahead of the railway budget, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has sought an exclusive railway zone for the northeastern region.
If Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee considers this demand, parts of West Bengal and Bihar would be de-linked from the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).
In a letter to Banerjee, Gogoi pointed out that a separate railway zone would be in the interest of the Northeast and its peoples. “One of the major causes of backwardness of the region is lack of connectivity, and the proposal, if considered, would go a long way in helping it develop.”
Besides the eight northeastern states, the NFR caters to the northern half of West Bengal and a slice of eastern Bihar. This railway zone has been expanding in the Northeast of late with an ambitious plan to connect all the state capitals.
As of now, only two state capitals – Guwahati (Assam) and Agartala (Tripura) are connected by railway. And barring Meghalaya and Sikkim, the other states have railway heads just beyond the boundary with Assam.
The last railway station in Mizoram is Bairabi, barely 10 km beyond the State’s boundary with southern Assam. Likewise, Manipur has Jiribam while Murkokseleng and Bhalukpong are two railheads in Arunachal Pradesh on different alignments.
Border town Dimapur has Nagaland’s only railway station although there’s a railhead to Tuli further west, which had some traffic before the shutter came down on a paper mill there.