Railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Tuesday that there was a plan to run semi-high-speed Vande Bharat Express to link Sikkim by December next year.
Vaishnaw was on a three-day trip to Sikkim to inspect the progress of 45km-long Sevoke-Rangpo railway project.
On Tuesday, he visited the Rangpo railway station, located in Sikkim and on the border with Bengal. The minister expressed satisfaction over the progress of the work.
“There will be 14 tunnels along the route and 17 bridges. Work on six tunnels has already ended and the construction of the bridges is also going on in full swing. The Prime Minister is keen to put Sikkim on the railway map of India. Once Rangpo is connected, our next focus will be the stretch between Rangpo and Gangtok. We want to run the Vande Bharat Express that will link Sikkim by December 2024,” Vaishnaw said.
Sources in Northeast Frontier Railway said the Union government wanted to have a rail link to Nathu-la, a pass located on the India-China frontier. The Sevoke-Rangpo stretch, they said, is likely to be completed by December this year.
“Sikkim is geographically strategic and hence, the improvement of the state’s connectivity — like in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh — is a priority for the central government,” said a source.
Vaishnaw, who is also the central minister for communication, electronics and information technology, said 5G cellphone services would be available in Sikkim by August this year. “We want to improve cellphone connectivity across the state so that people living in remote locations can connect to the world,” he said.