The new India-Bangladesh railway project along Tripura would be commissioned by next year-end and would be operational by January 2019, officials said here on Wednesday.

Senior officials of India and Bangladesh held a two-day meeting in Dhaka on Sunday and Monday, and visited the proposed locations of the railway project on Wednesday.

“The Dhaka meeting has decided to commission the Agartala (India)-Akhaura (Bangladesh) railway project by next year-end and it would be operational by January 2019,” Tripura Transport Secretary Samarjit Bhowmik said here.

Bhowmik, who was part of the 14-member Indian delegation, said: “For the 15-km India-Bangladesh new railway line, land acquisition has already been completed on the Indian side and 50 per cent completed on the Bangladesh territory.”

“Work order has been given to the concerned agency to start the physical work of the project.”

West Tripura District Magistrate and Collector Milind Ramteke, who is personally supervising the land acquisition and related work, said that of the total 72 acres of land, 49 acres has already been handed over to the railway authorities to start the work and the remaining land would be handed over soon.

The government-owned Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON) would lay the five-km track on the Indian side while the remaining 10-km would be laid by the Bangladesh Railways on their side. The Indian government would bear the entire cost of the project.

In the Dhaka meeting, the Indian delegation was led by External Affairs Ministry’s Joint Secretary M. Subbarayudu while the Bangladesh side was headed by the country’s Railway Ministry’s Secretary-in-Charge Mohammad Mofazzel Hossain.

The Agartala-Akhaura railway line would facilitate carriage of goods to and from both the countries and greatly benefit India’s land-locked northeastern states.

Also, the journey time between Agartala and Kolkata, via Bangladesh, would be reduced by a third, from 1,613-km through mountainous terrain to a mere 514 km.

Ramteke said that the Union government had released Rs 97.63 crore to acquire the land for the project, for which the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) is the nodal agency.

The existing railway line from Guwahati passes through Lumding in Nagaon district (in central Assam) and southern Assam connecting Agartala and parts of Manipur and Mizoram with the rest of the country.