India plans Myanmar rail connection

01 August 2016
India plans Myanmar rail connection
Tamu, Sagaing. Map: Google

After connecting with Bangladesh through Tripura, Indian Railways plans to link up to Myanmar’s railway network via Moreh in Manipur as part of the Trans-Asian Railway Network, India's railway minister Suresh Prabhu has said.
“Our integrated plan under the Trans-Asian Railway Network (TARN) is to connect to Northeast India which has become landlocked since the 1947 partition. The best way to connect the Northeast with the rest of India as well as for bringing holistic development to this region is to create multiple connectivity with our neighbouring nations in this region,” Prabhu told reporters in Agartala , the capital of Tripura state, after flagging off a train to Delhi on Sunday.
“We have done this with Bangladesh and we will also do this with Myanmar. Yesterday we discussed it. We have to get it approved by the Finance Ministry to get funds."
Prabhu who is on a three day trip to Northeast India to launch various railways projects in Manipur, Tripura and Nagaland had earlier said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision is to integrate the North East with proper connectivity and development and his government during the last two years had doubled the budget for rail connectivity in the region.
If Tripura and Manipur link with the TARN, it would play a vital role in the development of northeast India's economy, tourism and people-to-people contacts between the region and South-east Asian countries besides turning into India’s gateway to Southeast Asia.
But, so far, Indian railways only has plans to develop the Silchar-Imphal route. There is no budget allocation so far to take the railway beyond Imphal, the capital of Manipur state.
But Prabhu is optimistic that his ministry would be able to manage funds for extending the railway up to Moreh, a border town opposite Myanmar's Tamu town in Sagaing.
Moreh is 109 km from Imphal and the road to it runs through hills infested with several insurgent groups.
But the Modi government appears keen to link up to Myanmar by road and rail and sees the connection as opening up a vital trade that may help develop the Northeast.