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India ramping up Railways infra along borders with China, Pakistan

India is ramping up its strategic railways infrastructure along the eastern front with China and the western one with Pakistan to ensure faster movement of its troops and equipment such as tanks, artillery guns and infantry combat vehicles, top defence ministry sources said.

The Indian Army and the Indian Railways have increased their interface to develop infrastructure in these regions, which includes building ramps for quickly loading and unloading heavy equipment such as artillery guns at Silapathar, Murkongselek, New Missamari and Makum in Assam, Bhalukpong in Arunachal Pradesh and Dimapur in Nagaland, given their proximity to China.

Such ramps along the front with Pakistan will be for faster tank movement.

“Trials are also being conducted for enhancing the speed of the military special trains, which will help Army’s mobilisation plans,” explained the sources.

These trains currently move at speeds of only 20-30 km per hour to ensure overall stability, since they carry heavy loads of different shapes and sizes. The focus on enhancing railways infrastructure is aimed at ensuring faster movement of troops and equipment between the western and eastern theatres and shifting of forces from one sector to another which is under graver threat. It will also help in movement of bulk ammunition, especially during war-time.

The bulk of Army’s mobilisation takes place on rail because moving troops and equipment by air is limited. The Army uses 750-800 military special trains every year for inter-sector and inter-theatre movement of troops and equipment, training and exercises.

“The Army pays the railways Rs 2,000 crore every year for using special trains and other services. At many places where infrastructure is required and the budget is low, the railways uses from its own budget,” explained the sources.

The Army also owns 5,000 wagons and the railways has developed a computerised system for tagging the wagons to help the Army track them well. “The earlier system was manual and would take a long time in tracking the wagons,” said the sources.

Along with railways infrastructure, there is also focus on constructing 73 India-China Border Roads, 17 underground tunnels and 410 strategic bridges for stronger connectivity with the LAC. This is important, especially in the wake of the Dokalam standoff with China.

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