Train to Bangladesh flagged off by Modi, Sheikh Hasina, Mamata

Saul Bowman
November 10, 2017

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Thursday launched a new passenger train service between Khulna and Kolkata through a video conference, reports UNB.

Modi ended his speech on a note of thanks to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The two Prime Ministers - Mr Modi and Ms Hasina - also inaugurated simplified end-to-end immigration and custom clearance services of the Moitree Express which has been running between Dhaka and Kolkata.

Apart from flagging off the train, the leaders also inaugurated two bridges over the rivers Meghna and Titas in Bangladesh.

"I am happy to know that work is in progress in our Dollars 8 billion concessional finance commitment".

"I hope this fine display of mutuality of our relationship will further strengthen our bilateral relations".

Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, PM's Economic Affairs Adviser Moshiur Rahman, Political Affairs Adviser HT Imam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Indian High Commissioner to Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla and secretaries concerned were present at the Gono Bhaban.

The bridges will strengthen Bangladesh's rail network and "will help faster movement of both passenger and freight trains in Dhaka-Chittagong routes in Bangladesh", said a Railways Ministry tweet.

"We're ready to co-operate with India and other countries in the immediate neighbourhood for creating a "peace area" in South Asia where we can live together", she said. "I'm sure these connectivity initiatives will further consolidate this vision".

Bangladesh and India are working to re-open pre-1965 rail links for freight transport, Hasina added.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee described the launch of the projects as a remarkable day for India and Bangladesh.

Railway sources said the new train would start its commercial operation from November 16. "Hasinaji I invite you to visit Bengal".

The worldwide rail Ppassenger terminus at Chitpur in Kolkata will make it possible for Indian passengers traveling to Dhaka or Khulna in Bangladesh by Maitree Express or the newly launched Bandhan Express to get immigration clearance before boarding the trains.

Under an agreement with Bangladesh government, India's Ircon-Afcons JV constructed the bridge having both dual gauge and broad- gauge facilities.

The train, according to the schedule, would leave Kolkata at 11 a.m. (India time) and reach Khulna in four and half hours.

The 11-hour Kolkata-Dhaka journey via Maitree Express has two stops for immigration checking - one at Gede (Nadia) in India and the other at Dorshona in Bangladesh.

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