Indian Railway: Now the train will reach Sikkim also by next year. The work of this 13-year-old project is now expected to be completed. The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has set a target to complete the ambitious Siwok-Rangpo railway project in this regard. The target is that this Himalayan state will be placed on the railway map of India by the end of 2023. According to NFR officials, around 50 per cent of all major bridges and tunnels between Sewok-Rangpo have been completed. The infrastructure work is going on at a brisk pace at various places on this railway route.
About 55 per cent of the work on the 14 main tunnels of the railway project between Siwok and Rangpo (the border town of Sikkim) in West Bengal is said to be complete. In addition, 40 per cent of the 13 major bridges along the route have been completed so far. 39 km of tunnel will be built on this rail route, out of which work has been completed in about 22 km. The project was launched in 2009 by the then Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee. It will be 44.96 km long rail route, of which 40 km is in Bengal while the rest is within Sikkim.
Between Sewok and Rangpo, three more stations – Riang, Teesta Bazar and Meli – will be built along the railroad. Ever since the project started, questions have been raised over its implementation as the progress of the work has been extremely slow. The entire route passes through a landslide prone area, where construction is difficult. Especially during the monsoon, the work almost stops. Apart from this, the outbreak of Corona has also affected the work.
Rail route from Rangpo to Sikkim’s capital Gangtok
It is understood that the survey for extending the rail route from Rangpo to Sikkim’s capital Gangtok will begin after the completion of the Sewok-Rangpo project. The project is also important for security aspects as Sikkim is located on the India-China border. The completion of this project will help in smooth movement of security forces and equipment. Sikkim is one of the major strategic regions of the country as it is also close to the Siliguri Corridor, which is the thinnest part of India. Till now the main means of communication from Sikkim has been by road. The state inaugurated an airport in Pakyong in 2018 but flights are often disrupted due to bad weather.
The train route is expected to increase tourist inflow and industrial investment in Sikkim. The state has already emerged as a destination for pharmaceutical companies. Now more investment opportunities are being created.