INDIA: Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha watched the arrival of the first broad gauge trial train at Tripura's state capital Agartala on January 13. The start of passenger services will follow the completion of the conversion of the 227 km Badarpur - Agartala line from metre to 1 676 mm gauge and the necessary safety inspections which are scheduled for March.

Northeast Frontier Railway said 'people from all walks of life thronged Agartala station' to witness the 'historic moment' when the locomotive and six coaches rolled in, with loud applause when Sinha changed the signals to receive the train and then invited the crew to join him on the dias.

Construction of the final 109 km of the line to Agartala was sanctioned 1996-97 and it opened as a metre-gauge route in 2008.

A new depot has been provided at Agartala station, with 'first of its kind' automatic coach watering and waste water recycling facilities.

Speaking after the arrival of the first train, Sinha said all the northeast state capitals would be connected to the broad gauge network by 2020. The construction of an extension of the line west from Agartala across the border to Akhaua in Bangladesh is a priority despite the high cost of land acquisition, while a new line south to Sabroom on the border with Bangladesh is expected to be completed in March 2017.