Yes, it’s time to add Andaman and Nicobar Islands to our bucket list because guess what, Andaman and Nicobar Islands will soon get its first ever railway line. And no we are not kidding!!! If you too have dreams of enjoying a vacation in the much-loved islands and are planning to visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands, traveling might soon get more convenient to this destination.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been a famous destination among travelers for its scenic and antiquated beauty. But we have seen more craze in couples and honeymooners about these exotic islands for pristine beauty, calm seas and bounty nature.
I know you all have started visualizing the scenic beauty through the window of your seat, so here’s everything you need to know about the dream rail route of all travelers.
WHAT IS THE PROJECT
The Indian government has given green signal to the 240 kms broad gauge railway tracks in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, connecting Port Blair and Diglipur. The link is expected to run parallel to the coast through a number of bridges and stations. This line will connect Port Blair with Diglipur, becoming the first railway line in the country to get the archipelago i.e the group of islands on the rail map.
So if you are someone who suffers from sea-sickness then fret no more. You can now avoid those bumpy ferry rides, all thanks to the first railway line in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Currently, there are only two ways to reach Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands either by Air or by Sea. Port Blair and Diglipur are well connected by road and sea. The distance between Port Blair and Diglipur via the 350kms Andaman Trunk Road (ATR) takes nearly about 14 hours by bus while the ferry takes a whole day. But once the railway tracks are laid, the journey then will be covered in ONLY 3 HOURS.
WHAT’S THE COST OF THE PROJECT
The rail line will be built with Rs 2,413.68 crore with a negative rate of return on investment of -9.64 per cent. Though a rail line is considered commercially viable if it is at least a positive of 12 per cent yet Railways has approved the plan due to its “uniqueness and strategic importance”, as per documents reviewed by The Indian Express.
Planning and Finance directorates of Railways said that the project “is unique, away from the mainland, and has tourism potential.”
BENEFITS FOR TOURISM
It’s clear that the main agenda of the railway line is to boost tourism. Andaman already gives you a feel of an exotic foreign island while Port Blair and Diglipur are both great locations for tropical vacation. If you visit there you won’t feel that you are in India. We really are super excited and super anxious about the rail route, and just wish it starts soon.
“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,” Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Jagdish Mukhi told The Indian Express.
The Ross and Smith islands are the major tourist attractions in Diglipur. “These are just two of the main attractions. Lakhs of tourists take great pains to reach there from Port Blair every year. With the railway line in place, that part essentially becomes a part of the capital, beneficial to tourists, local residents and the defence forces,” said Mukhi. The region is also famous for its serene sea-side experience at the Lamiya Bay Beach and the Kalipur Beach.
”If they get trains to our island, travelling will become much easier. Diglipur has about 40,000 people, so it will make the to-and-fro travelling much easier,” Tufan Kishen, a native of Port Blair was quoted as saying by International Business Times.
THE IMPORTANCE TO DEFENCE FORCES
It’s very clear that the railway line of Andaman and Nicobar Islands will play a vital role for the defence forces also. As per the Railways’ Planning wing, the project can help build the strategic lines for Defence ministry like those in the border regions of the Northeast. In fact, the Finance arm can be taken up as a national project much like the famous Kashmir link.
The Union Territory administration too pitched for the tourism potential of the rail line claiming it is of “immense strategic value” to the defence forces as Diglipur is only 300 km by sea from the southern coast of Myanmar.
Let us know who all are super excited to visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands through the rail. And if you already have been to these exotic destinations, do share your experience with us.
Pic Credit for Thumbnail image- Travel Earth
Pic Credit for Instagram images – andaman_nicobar