A 240-KM broad-gauge railway line connecting two major islands, with bridges and stations along the coast, will be part of an ambitious rail link connecting Port Blair with Diglipur on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The development of such a rail line is the first in the country that will bring the archipelago on the rail map. The Railway Ministry is set to approve the project, which will connect the Union Territory’s capital city in the south with the largest town on the north Andaman island currently linked by a 350-km bus service that takes over 14 hours and a ship that takes around 24 hours. There is no air connectivity. According to an internal survey report of the ministry, the cost of the line will be Rs 2,413.68 crore. The ministry is set to approve this project owing to its “uniqueness and strategic importance”. Giving a fillip to the rail link, the Union Territory administration has agreed to share 50 per cent of the project’s operational cost — or loss. As soon as the line is commissioned, tourism will see a jump from the current 4.5 lakh visitors a year to around 6 lakh a year. The Finance arm has said that it may be taken up as a national project, like the Kashmir link.
Image source: aniidco.and.nic.in