"(Indian Express) Right track- Connecting the northeastern capitals by rail will produce enormous dividends.
• Agartala was the second northeastern city to get on India’s metre-gauge railway map in the 1990s, but only now can it look forward to joining the mainstream.
• The first broad-gauge locomotive has rolled into the capital of Tripura on a trial run, gaily decorated, like a New Year’s present.
• It marks the first step in a long overdue project, deadlined for 2020, to connect the capitals of all the northeastern states to the rest of India which, politically incorrectly, is spoken of as the “mainland”.
• Even before that, by 2017, a line will be laid to Akhaura in Bangladesh, which will offer through connectivity all the way to Chittagong.
• In about the same time, another line to the Bangladesh border through the South district of Tripura will be laid. These lines will assume significance in the coming decades, when international rail links through Asia are expected to play large roles in trade and tourism, leaching traffic away from air and road networks.
• The political impact could be even more valuable than the efficiencies offered by rail transport. The railway system has served India as a great unifier, binding together diverse cultures in a web of steel.
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