PATNA: With railways expediting the work of laying new lines in Sikkim, Patna may have direct connectivity with the state in a few years' time, according to ECR CPRO Neeraj Ambastha. Direct rail connectivity of Sikkim through north Bengal would also benefit the people living in Bhutan. Tourism to and fro Sikkim would also get a fillip.
Railways is currently implementing an ambitious project to lay new lines in Sikkim. Civil work has been going on smoothly after it was kicked off during the then railway minister, Mamata Banerjee 's tenure last year.
Dwelling on its importance, a Railway Board official said that the whole project would now cost about Rs 1,335 crore. Railways intends to complete it in 2015 to cater to the needs of a large number of people, including tourists, he said, adding Sikkim is already listed on the map of Indian Railways.
According to a Board official, the distance to be covered under the new rail linking project is about 52.7km, between Sevoke in Siliguri and Rangpo in east Sikkim. This rail link is being completed on a priority basis during the first phase of work, he said.
Railways is also keen to complete the doubling of railway tracks between Changrabandha and Malbazar, work on which is presently going on in full swing. It would help Bhutan carry out freight movements easily, he said.
Railways is building five stations linking Siliguri with Sikkim. As many as 100 bridges and four manned level crossings would be built between these places. To lay tracks in such difficult terrains, railways has no option but to build 13 tunnels to extend rail link in Sikkim. The longest tunnel is said to be about 1,814-metre-long, a Board official said .
Indian Railway Construction Company Ltd has been carrying out work on this project. Completion of this project in time will open a new chapter for the Indian Railways in the northeast region, added a Board official
Incidentally, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is said to have shown keen interest in the railway project. He is also in favour of early completion of the project, sources said.