On Friday, Bengaluru got its second longest train. The train connects the city to the capital of Tripura, Agartala. 

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The city has a sizeable number of people from Tripura, studying and working here for years. Every time they have to go home, they have to take the flight or train, but all involving several breaks. Now, with Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain flagging off the weekly train that will link the two state capitals via Kamakhya, Howrah, Cuttack, and Vijayawada, most from this North-Eastern state are heaving a sigh of relief.

Pratik Debarrma from Agartala has been living in Bangalore for 17 years now. “I travel to Tripura twice a year through the flight. The airfares are around Rs 6,000 – 8,000. Direct trains from Bengaluru will help us as it makes our remote hometown more accessible,” he told BM.

Friday’s event was a formal inaugural, but services will begin from January 9. The train service had been launched from Kamakhya to Bengaluru (3,030 km) on December 25, 2016. Now it has been extended to Agartala.

According to the Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR), the train will halt at seven stations between Agartala and Guwahati and at 26 between Agartala and Bengaluru Cantonment station.

The Humsafar Express is a fully AC 3-tier service.

Currently, Yeshwanthpur-Dibrugarh is the longest running train covering 3,547 kilometers (64 hours and 18 minutes). The Bengaluru Cantonment to Agartala train comes close at second with a distance of 3,544 km that would take 64 hours and 15 minutes.

“Students and people from Tripura who work in Bengaluru’s restaurants and security offices cannot afford to book flights. It was impossible for them to go back home on every festival, but now this problem will be solved,” Debarrma said.

He said there are no direct flights to Tripura too. “One has to take a connecting flight from Bengaluru to Kolkata and then to Tripura, which takes around 5-6 hours,” he said.

The very first train to connect to Tripura is no less than a luxury train. With three-tier air-conditioned Linke Hofmann Busch coaches, the train will also have vending machines for tea and coffee, bio-toilets and LED screens to display all the important information and announcements.

Bikash Debarrma, also from Tripura, working in Bengaluru, said, “I travel home only once in a year as the flight fares are too high. So, trains are obviously a better option. I can plan more frequent visits to my hometown now.”

Siddhartha Chakraborty, a businessman, who travels to Bengaluru every month, said, “Trains will have lower fares as compared to flights. India has a large railway network and yet some states are poorly connected. This train will help tourism in Tripura too.”

Barsajamatia, a student of Brite College of Nursing, Bengaluru, told BM that as Bengaluru has a high cost of living, it was not easy for students to save up enough to be able to travel home. But now, it has become reasonable, so she hopes to save and travel often.

Paulomi Arya, a dancer who has been living in Bengaluru since three years, said, “I have been missing out on a lot of festivals back home because I can’t travel every second month to Tripura. I come from a small village in Tripura called Bishalgarh and it is annoying when people ask where this place is. Very few people have heard the name and some do not know whether Tripura is a state or a city.” She said train connectivity has a lot to do with making places reachable and attracting tourism and that gradually people will come to know more about Tripura’s culture and folktales.

Arundhati, a fellow dancer, seconded her, “Train travels with friends are fun too. We would no longer have to take long connecting flights to Tripura and can travel with our Tripura friends in groups and enjoy our trip. Also, the train is well-equipped so travel will be comfortable.”

Source:- Bangalore Mirror

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