The hilly state of northeast India, Sikkim is expected to be inducted into the rail network with the rest of India by 2023 as the 44.98-km long Sevoke-Rangpo railway line is set to become operational within two years.
“The Sevoke-Rangpo rail line would become operational from 2023,” said Anshul Gupta, the general manager of the North-East Frontier Railway, after visiting the project site at Sevoke, around 20 km from Siliguri in West Bengal.
“Despite the difficult terrain, land-related hiccups, and very difficult land strata, the project would be completed in 2023.”
Then railway minister Mamata Banerjee, who is now West Bengal Chief Minister, laid the foundation stone for the project in 2009 which was supposed to be completed by 2015.
Railway officials said that the Prime Minister’s office and the Railway Board have set December 2023 as the project completion target.
An official from the Indian Railway Construction Company, which is implementing the project, said that 30% of the work has already been completed.
Sikkim, that hists eastern Himalayas including the third highest peak the Kangchenjunga (8586 metres) has a elevated terrain throughout the state with an elevation that ranges from 280 metres (920 ft) to 8,585 metres (28,000 ft).
The line, which will connect West Bengal and Sikkim, was estimated to be completed at the cost of ₹1,339.48 crore. But because of the delay in the construction, the cost has escalated to more than ₹5,000 crore.
While 41.54 km of the railway line falls in the Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal, the remaining portion of around 3.44 km will run through Sikkim.
The project includes 14 tunnels, 17 bridges, and five stations, which include one at Teesta in Kalimpong district that would be underground. At least 86% of the route will pass through 14 tunnels out of which 13 tunnels are in West Bengal.