Progress on cross-border railway link for Gelephu and Samtse

During the 116th National Day Royal Address, His Majesty The King thanked the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Government of India (GoI) for the continued goodwill and support.

His Majesty mentioned about three priority areas that will support the upcoming Gelephu Mindfulness City. One of which will be connectivity.

During a recent visit to India, His Majesty said that the GoI pledged to connect two or three of Bhutan’s border towns with railway lines.

The Department of Surface Transport under the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport have planned the cross-border railway link in Gelephu and Samtse.

The Preliminary Engineering and Traffic Survey for Gelephu-kokrajhar was completed in August 2023.

The subsequent phase involves the Final Location Survey (FLS) for both locations. Despite the nomenclature suggesting a mere “survey,” the FLS entails comprehensive studies encompassing meteorological, geological, topographical, and socio-economic aspects.

The ministry expressed its gratitude to GoI for their steadfast support throughout all activities, particularly in endorsing the FLS for the two cross-border railway links.

It is anticipated that the FLS for Gelephu-Kokrajhar and Samtse-Banarhat will be finalized by May and June 2024 respectively.

The railway within the Gelephu Mindfulness City will approximately be 3km. For now, the purpose of the railway will be for trade transport and not for passengers. Since India is already using diesel run railway, the same will be used.

The financial and construction aspects of the project are pending discussion at the governmental level between the Royal Government of Bhutan (RoGB) and GoI.

The department will be the lead agency for the project. With support from other stakeholder partners such as the Department of Trade, Department of Industry, Department of Geology & Mines etc., they intend to complete this historic project incorporating the global best practices for the benefits of Bhutanese economy.

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