Transport in Bhutan
Transport in Bhutan comprises approximately 8,000 kilometres (5,000 mi) of roads and four airports, out of which 3 are operational and interconnected. Paro Airport is the only airport that serves international flights. As part of Bhutan's infrastructure and modernization programs, its road system has been under development since the 1960s.
- Total: 8,050 km (5,000 mi)
- Paved: 4,991 km (3,101 mi)
- Unpaved : 3,059 km (1,901 mi) (2003)
The country's primary road is the East-West highway, known locally as the Lateral Road, which was constructed starting in 1962. The road starts in Phuentsholing on the southwestern Indian border and terminates in Trashigang in the far east, with spurs to other main centres such as Paro, Thimphu, and Punakha. The Lateral Road is built to a standard width of only 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) yet must support traffic in both directions (the cost of cutting a wider road through the mountainous Middle Himalayas is prohibitive at this time). Safety barriers, road markings, and signage are sparse. Traffic proceeds at a slow speed, typically around 15 km/h (9.3 mph), to minimise head-on collisions. Road accidents still occur frequently and, because of the steep mountainous topography, are typically horrific. Most of the route between Paro Airport and Thimphu has recently been improved to a two lane road.
The Lateral Road traverses are a number of high passes, including Tremo La and Do Chu La. The highest pass on the road is at Chapcha; the second-highest pass is at Trumshing La in central Bhutan at an altitude of over 3,800 m (12,500 ft). Main roadways in western and eastern Bhutan are maintained by Dantak, a unit of Border Roads Organisation engineering division of Indian Army and in the rest of the country by the Bhutanese government's Department of Roads.
Because much of the geology is unstable, there are frequent slips and landslides, which are aggravated by both summer monsoon and winter snowstorm and frost heave conditions. Teams of Indian labourers are housed at work camps in the mountain passes to be dispatched to clear the roads in the event of road blockage. The conditions in the work camps are poor, with the workers reduced to breaking rock into gravel on a piece-rate basis when not clearing the roads. An international aid project is under way to stabilise the worst sections of the road. A major Japanese aid project seeks to replace most of the narrow single track bridges with two-way girder spans capable of carrying heavier traffic.
Most freight is moved on eight-ton 300 hp (224 kW) Tata trucks, which are often overloaded. There is a network of passenger buses, and the most common vehicle in government and private use is the four-wheel-drive pickup. A national driver licensing system includes a driving test, but this is not rigorous. Government drivers are trained at the Samthang Vocational Training Institute driving school (formerly the National Driving Training Institute) or they learn on the job as 'handy boys'.The roads do not have traffic lights; a stoplight installed in Thimphu has been dismantled, and there are recent reports of plans to reinstate it.
- Total: 4 (2010)
- Paved: 4
Bhutan currently has 4 airports:
- Bathpalathang Airport (Bumthang Airport)
- Gelephu Airport - not operational as of January 2014
- Yongphulla Airport
- Paro Airport, the only international airport in Bhutan
As of 2012, Bhutan had no railways.
On 25 January 2005, the King of Bhutan and Indian Prime Minister agreed to carry out a feasibility study for rail links. Possible routes were Hasimara–Phuentsholing with a branch to Pasaka (18 km); Kokrajhar–Gelephu (70 km); Pathsala–Naglam (40 km); Rangla–Darranga–Samdrupjongkar (60 km); and Banarhat–Samtse
In December 2009, the King of Bhutan approved the final plan to build a 11-mile (18 km) long 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge rail link between Hashimara in West Bengal and Toribari in Bhutan. The construction of the railway via through Satali, Bharna Bari and Dalsingpara by Indian railways is being funded by India.