New Railway Link to Connect Bhutan and India: Boosting Trade and Tourism

In a significant move, the Indian government has earmarked ₹120 billion for the expansion of railway infrastructure in India’s northeastern region. This development is poised to pave the way for the first-ever railway link between Bhutan and India, promising substantial benefits for both nations.

1. The Bhutan-India Railway Link: The ambitious railway project, estimated at ₹10 billion, will span 57.5 kilometers, connecting Kokrajhar in Assam, India, to Gelephu in Sarpang, Bhutan. The project aims to enhance connectivity and facilitate trade and tourism between the two countries.

2. Expected Completion by 2026: The railway project is set to be completed by 2026, marking a significant milestone in regional transportation infrastructure.

3. Bilateral Discussions and Benefits: India’s External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, highlighted ongoing discussions between India and Bhutan regarding this transformative railway connection. He emphasized that Bhutan is keen to open more avenues for tourism, and this railway link promises to benefit Assam significantly. The railway can act as a game-changer, promoting both trade and tourism.

4. Facilitating Trade and Cultural Exchange: The Bhutan-India railway project has the potential to be a breakthrough in terms of facilitating the export of goods, enabling cultural exchange, and strengthening bilateral ties between the two nations.

5. Paving the Way for More Projects: The commencement of the Gelephu-Kokrajhar rail link construction is expected to pave the way for additional railway projects in the southern and eastern regions of both nations. This includes areas like Samtse, Phuentsholing, Nganglam, and Samdrupjongkhar.

6. A Vision Set in Stone: The commitment to this transformative railway vision was formalized in 2005 when Bhutan and India signed a Memorandum of Understanding. This agreement solidified their shared aspiration to link bordering towns through a railway network.

7. Strengthening Bilateral Ties: India shares a 605-kilometer (376-mile) border with Bhutan and is its largest trading partner, accounting for 98 percent of its exports and 90 percent of its imports. The railway link is expected to further strengthen these economic ties.

Conclusion: As the wheels of progress turn, the Bhutan-India railway link draws closer to becoming a reality. This transformative project heralds a new era of connectivity and cooperation, with the potential to boost trade, tourism, and cultural exchange between these two neighboring nations. Stay tuned for more updates as this exciting railway project unfolds.

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