Torrential rains and heavy landslides have once again disrupted rail services in southern Assam, Tripura and parts of Manipur and Mizoram, officials said on Wednesday.
“Railway workers have been working round-the-clock to clear the debris in many places in southern Assam’s Dima Hasao district. The huge mudslides together with stones covering a large portion of railway tracks at Fidhing and other places are being cleared,” a Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) official said.
He said it would take another three or four days to clear the debris and make way for trains.
“We are expecting to restore rail services in the region by the end of this week,” he said.
NFR officials and engineers accompanied by district administration officials camped at the spot, 300 km south of Guwahati, to supervise the clearance work.
Due to heavy rains, huge landslides occurred in the Lumding-Badarpur hill section in southern Assam on Monday night. NFR chief public relations officer Pranav Jyoti Sharma said four major trains running between Guwahati and Silchar, including the Silchar-Sealdah Kanchanjunga Express and the Silchar-New Delhi via Guwahati Poorvattar Sampark Kranti Express, were cancelled until the removal of mudslides.
Similar such disruptions of railway operations had occurred for two weeks in the same areas until May 6.
The Kanchanjunga Express was introduced between Silchar and Sealdah in Kolkata via Guwahati and the Silchar-New Delhi via Guwahati Poorvattar Sampark Kranti Express commenced earlier this year fulfilling a long-standing demand of the people to link southern Assam with other parts of the country.
The railway line from Guwahati passes through southern Assam connecting land-locked Tripura’s capital Agartala and parts of Manipur and Mizoram with the rest of India.
Thousands of passengers, bound for Guwahati and the rest of the country, were stranded in southern Assam’s Badarpur, Silchar and Lumding areas after the disruption of railway services.
The Guwahati-Silchar railway line is the lifeline for southern Assam comprising four districts, known as Barak Valley, and the mountainous states of Tripura, Manipur and Mizoram.
These states are heavily dependent on this railway line for supply of foodgrain, fertilisers, petroleum products, construction materials and other commodities.
The 437-km Lumding-Silchar and Badarpur-Agartala gauge conversion works, which was sanctioned in 1996, were completed earlier this year.
The project was hit by insurgency from 2006 to 2009 and works could only gain speed after that turbulent period.
In the first phase, the 210-km Lumding-Silchar gauge conversion project was completed last year.
In the second phase, the 227-km Badarpur-Agartala gauge conversion was scheduled to be completed in March but was completed three months earlier.
With the completion of gauge conversion work right up to Agartala, the Tripura capital was connected with the country’s broad gauge railway network through Guwahati at a distance of about 600 km.