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Rail communications with India expand

Published : 30 Dec 2020 09:44 PM | Updated : 31 Dec 2020 09:08 AM

The long-closed railway links between Bangladesh and India are being reopened one after another.

With the introduction of railway connecting points, the transport of passengers and goods between the two countries is undergoing a radical change.

There are 7-8 old railway line links between West Bengal and Assam. All were stopped. Now, 5 of the closed lines have been reopened. The rest will be launched very soon. To this end, construction of Akhaura-Agartala, Shahbazpur-Mahishasan and Feni-Bilonia railway work  is going on in full swing.

According to the Ministry of Railways, Bangladesh had 8 railway connections with West Bengal and Assam in India. These lines were closed before independence. The governments of the two countries have taken initiative to reopen the closed lines to increase social and economic ties between the two countries. 

Firstly, the Maitree Express train line connected Dhaka with Kolkata, reviving the rail link that used to exist before partition in 1947. Opened in 2008, the train is a popular mode of travel for Bangladeshis visiting India. If anyone looks for a fun way to finish off their travel in India—or look for a good start to Bangladesh—taking the train from Dhaka to Kolkata to Dhaka is the way to go.

Following this, train communication was started on Benapole-Petrapole, Chilahati-Haldibari, Biral-Radhikapur, Rohanpur-Singhabad routes. Passenger trains are running on Benapole-Petrapole, Darshana-Gede route out of the 5 routes currently in operation.

At the same time, freight and parcel trains are also running on 5 routes. Railway officials have confirmed that passenger trains will run on the Chilahati-Haldibari route on March 26.

The Dhaka-Kolkata passenger Maitri Express is running 5 days a week through Darshana-Gede. The Khulna-Kolkata Bandhan Express runs on the Benapole-Petrapole route two days a week. Freight trains started plying on the Chilahati-Haldibari route on 17 December. The Prime Ministers of the two countries inaugurated the route by launching a freight train on the same day.

Passenger trains will also run on this route from March 26 next year. Both the countries are working fast for the construction of Akhaura-Agartala and Shahbazpur-Mahishasan routes - more than 50 per cent work has already been completed on these two projects.

Railway officials said various initiatives have been taken to expand rail connectivity between India and Bangladesh. To this end, the Government of India is providing loans for financial, technical, operational and infrastructure development.

Meanwhile, construction of Akhaura-Agartala dual gauge line is progressing rapidly. If the new railway route is established, freight trains will run along with passenger trains. With the construction of this railway, Sabroom, the southernmost border town and the nagar panchayat in South Tripura district in the Indian state of Tripura, will be connected with Chattogram International Seaport. At the same time one can travel to any state of India by direct train from Bangladesh via Agartala.

The Chilahati-Haldibari railway line was closed in 1965. In this way, it is easy to transport passengers and goods to and from India and Nepal and Bhutan through the interchange point - so the governments of the two countries took the initiative to re-launch this route. 

Launched on December 17, the route will help Bangladesh trade with Nepal and Bhutan. The railway will be used by both Bangladesh and India.

Just as the Indian Railways can use this route to reach Siliguri, the Bangladeshi Railways can use this route to transport passengers and goods from Siliguri. At present, Nepal and Bhutan want to use Bangladesh's Mongla seaport to transport goods. But the cost is also higher because it is done by road. But if this railway is launched and connected to Siliguri, it will be possible to go to Siliguri using the railway of Bangladesh. As a result, there will be opportunities for import and export along with Nepal and Bhutan, experts said.

Besides, this railway will run from Kolkata through Darshana border to Ishwardi-Parbatipur-Saidpur-Nilphamari-Domar-Chilahati of Bangladesh and to Siliguri via Haldibari of India.

Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujan told Bangladesh Post that all the railway routes that were once in operation between Bangladesh and India will be relaunched. The present government is radically changing the railways. In its continuation, initiatives have been taken to reopen the closed railways between the two countries. Five closed railways have already been reopened. The rest of the railways will be opened at the scheduled time. The importance of Bangladesh will increase a lot if we can get involved in Trans Asian Highway and Asian Railway.