Andaman island is set to have its first ever rail route connecting Port Blair to Diglipur on a 240-km long broad gauge railway line that connects these two islands, both being major tourist attractions. What earlier took a gruelling 14 hours to gap the distance of 350-km on a bus and 24 hours on a ship can now be traversed in just three hours. Talk about Christmas being around, right? By Shubhanjana Das
Given that the capital city of the Union Territory and North Andaman’s largest town have no connectivity by air, this rail route is expected to boost the tourist traffic received by the island.
This is An Important Step-Up for Tourism:
Even though the Railway Ministry is still judging the commercial viability of this daring 2413.68 crore venture, it is surely a step up in terms of uniqueness and its contribution to the tourism business of the Union Territory. This rail route to the Andamans is revolutionary, in that it is expected to raise the tourist footfall received by as much as 12 per cent. Albeit it has been informed by the authorities that there is a fair share of risk that comes with the project, it will serve as a benchmark nonetheless.
“As soon as the line is commissioned, tourism will see a jump from the current 4.5 lakh visitors a year to around 6 lakh a year, as per our estimates. So, even though the railway survey shows a negative return, our assessment is otherwise. However, we have agreed to share the operational losses, if any,” Jagdish Mukhi, Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands was quoted saying.
The planning of the project goes back to as long as 2014, but it was only last year that it received a fresh push and the ball finally started rolling. Now, the UT ministry and the Railway ministry have agreed to take up shared responsibility to make this venture a success, be it in profit or loss.
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The Defence Forces are Set to Benefit As Well:
The rail route to Andaman is a green signal for better and improved communication for our Defence Forces as well. How, you ask? Well, this rail route is not just aimed at giving the tourism industry a push but is included in the strategic lines that the Railways’ Planning Wing will build for the Defence Industry, much like the existing Kashmir Link. Given that Diglipur is at a distance of a mere 300-km by sea from the southern coast of Myanmar, we can see why this project is of primary importance to the Defence Forces.
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Andamans, Here We Come!
It is no news that the Railway Ministry has always worked hand-in-hand with the tourism industry. With this rail route to the Andamans, it just made sure that the archipelago is included in the list of the most scenic rail routes that the country has to offer. Squeezing in a 240-km-long rail journey into just three hours is a smooth move and that which has dual benefits. As for tourists, this is the call to set your darts on the map of this pristine island, and get, set, travel!