India to build first rail link to Bhutan
Next year Indian Railways (IR) plans to begin construction of a 57km broad gauge line linking Kokrajhar in India and Gelephu in Bhutan. The cost of the project is estimated at 10 billion rupees (129.9 million US dollars). According to representatives of the Ministry of Railways, preliminary engineering work is nearing completion. It is reported by Railway Supply magazine with reference to IRJ.
This will be the first railway to be built in Bhutan. The Government of India is resurrecting plans to expand its rail network to neighboring countries under the so-called Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) initiative. Earlier this year, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) connectivity master plan for the BBIN countries was presented.
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India has also been spurred on by China’s rapid rail and road construction activities to the north. China has built two lines along its border with the state of Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India. This includes a 435km line connecting Lhasa in Tibet to Nyongchi, opposite India’s Upper Siang district in Arunachal Pradesh. This electrified line opened last year. China plans to extend the 250km Lhasa – Xigaze line further south towards the Indian state of Sikkim. India has also been concerned about China’s project to build an 825km line connecting Hotan in southwestern Xinjiang to Ruoqiang in southeastern Xinjiang, as the line would be close to India’s Union Territory of Ladakh.
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