NFR to start toy train project in Tawang

ITANAGAR, 12 Aug: Chief Minister Pema Khandu has given the nod to a proposal by the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) to start a toy train project in Tawang.

NFR General Manager Anshul Gupta, who along with other NFR officials called on the CM here on Thursday, said the project envisages a “tourist-centric toy train service in and around Tawang township.”

Khandu suggested to the NFR officials to coordinate with the Tawang administration for logistic support. A team of NFR officials and engineers are set to visit Tawang next week to carry out a joint survey and finalize the project with the district administration.

Gupta assured that “once everything is settled, the NFR will complete the project within six months.”

Discussing railways-related issues, Khandu called for resumption of train services from the state capital, which at the moment is stalled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “While other states have resumed rail services, Arunachal Pradesh is yet to open it,” he said.

It was decided in the meeting that, except for the Donyi-Polo Express, which shuttles between Naharlagun and Guwahati, the other two train services – Shatabdi (Naharlagun-Guwahati) and AC Express (Naharlagun-Delhi) – would resume from 1 September.

“The Donyi-Polo Express is awaiting finalization of fares/rates which is under review. Once done, the train too would resume its services,” the NFR officials informed.

The CM also asked the officials to construct the Yupia bridge at the earliest.

“The bridge attains significance as work on the four-lane highway between Naharlagun and Banderdewa will soon begin and, without any alternative route, it would trigger huge traffic congestion,” he said.

The Yupia bridge, which would connect NH 415 (Lekhi) with the Papu-Yupia Trans-Arunachal Highway at Borum, near the railway station, will considerably ease traffic congestion in Naharlagun and also provide seamless connectivity between the ISBT and the railway station, the CM said.

Gupta informed that the tender for construction of the bridge has already been awarded, and said it would be completed by March next year.

The chief minister also requested the NFR to introduce train services from Naharlagun to states in south India. “With many travelling to southern states for studies, jobs, treatment, etc, and having a large chunk of government employees hailing from these states, there’s an urgent need to have direct train services at least till Bangalore via Chennai,” he said.

Gupta said the NFR “is open to the proposal and would work on its feasibility and routes and come back to the state government.”

He further informed that the Naharlagun-Delhi AC Express would be upgraded to Rajdhani Express. He also informed that the NFR is “under process to extend electric locomotive services in the region.” At present, electric engine train services are available till New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, from where diesel engines take over.

“Overhead electricity lines will be reaching Guwahati by this month, and surveys are on for laying of the same till Naharlagun railway station,” Gupta said.

Other issues discussed were rail connectivity to Pasighat, availing of train services by the FCI and the IOCL, transportation of agri-horti products from the state, railways for tourism, etc, as well as the role the NFR could play in creating centres of excellence in sports in Arunachal.

Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar also attended the meeting. (CM’s PR Cell)