Bangladesh and India on Thursday resumed train link between Khulna and Kolkata after fifty-two years of closure of the services.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the services from her official residence Ganabhaban in Dhaka, while her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi opened it from his office in New Delhi, according to United News of Bangladesh.
The two prime ministers also inaugurated the ‘end-to-end’ immigration and customs facilities of Dhaka-Kolkata ‘Maitree Express’ train service and opened the second Bhairab Railway Bridge and the second Titas Railway Bridge through videoconference.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh would cooperate with India and other neighbouring countries for creating a ‘peace area’ in South Asia where all could live together as good neighbours and pursue constructive policies for the benefit of all.
‘We’re ready to cooperate with India and other countries in the immediate neighbourhood for creating a “peace area” in South Asia where we can live together,’ she said.
Jointly with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, she inaugurated the end-to-end immigration and customs services of Dhaka-Kolkata Maitree Express, launched train communication on newly-built second Bhairab and second Titas Railway Bridges through a videoconference.
Hasina said this was the fulfilment of a long-cherished dream as these initiatives with a new international passenger terminal at Chitpur, Kolkata would facilitate comfortable journey on Dhaka-Kolkata and Khulna-Kolkata routes.
The two countries ‘are also working to re-open our pre-1965 rail links’ for cargo transport between Bangladesh and India, she said.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi stressed the importance of further strengthening relationship among neighbouring countries to ensure their greater growth and prosperity.
Pointing out that development and connectivity were interlinked, Modi said they took some more steps towards strengthening the relations between the two countries.
He expressed his satisfaction that projects were progressing well under the commitment of our eight-billion dollar concessional finance.
The Indian prime minister said this would not only make easy the customs and immigration process, but also save three hours during their travel.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee hoped, in her speech, that friendship, unity, harmony, solidarity and the bond of language between the two countries would be further strengthened in the years to come.
Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and her Bangladesh counterpart AH Mahmood Ali, PM’s economic affairs adviser Moshiur Rahman, political affairs adviser HT Imam, state minister for foreign affairs M Shahriar Alam were present on their respective side.
Hasina also invited Narendra Modi, Sushma Swaraj and Mamata Benerjee to visit Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Railway officials said the two new bridges were built on the Rivers Bhairab and Titas as a second track was constructed for simultaneous operation up and down train services from Dhaka to Chittagong and Sylhet.
The train to operate on the 177km Khulna-Kolkata route would be dubbed as ‘Bandhan Express’ while the service was being launched to ease further communication between the two neighbouring countries.
The train on the route, however, would start ferrying passengers from November 16 and according to the schedule, it would leave Kolkata at 11:00am (Indian time) and reach Khulna within only four and a half hours.
The two railway bridges were constructed with the Indian LoC.w
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