PM Modi, Sheikh Hasina launch passenger train between Kolkata and Bangladesh

Modi, Sheikh Hasina flag off new train service

Modi, Sheikh Hasina flag off new train service

Taking their close ties and connectivity links further, India and Bangladesh on Thursday opened a new rail line between Kolkata and Khulna with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee jointly flagging-off the "Bandhan Express" via video-conferencing.

Bandhan Express will be a weekly train leaving from Kolkata every Thursday at 7.10 am.

Referring to connectivity as one of the major pillars of Bangladesh-India cooperation, the Bangladesh PM said two countries are not only connected through rail, road, inland water and air, but also connected through internet bandwidth, coastal routes and power grid. On the occasion, Narendra Modi said the ties of friendship between India and Bangladesh have further strengthened.

"With the inauguration of the new International Passenger Terminus and launch of a new train service passengers will be benefitted", he said.

While Bengal chief minister described the launch as a remarkable moment for India and Bangladesh.

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Prime Minister also said, "protocol" should not come between two neighbouring sides.

"I am happy to note that we are making progresses in that direction step by step".

Hasina too expressed hope for more such initiatives for increasing rail link and connectivity between the two countries. "Bangladesh-India relations are in fact setting new high standards of bilateral cooperation in the region and beyond", she added.

She also invited Hasina over to Bengal.

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was present at the New Delhi office while Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, PM Hasina's Political Affairs Advisor HT Imam, and Economic Affairs Advisor Dr Moshiur Rahman, were present at the Hasina's official Ganobhaban residence.

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She said it was yet another happy occasion in Bangladesh-India relations.

"Whenever we talk of connectivity, I am always reminded of the vision to revive the pre-1965 connectivity".

The 1 km long Bhairab railway bridge was built over Meghna at a cost of around $ 75 million by Indian contractors and consultants, while the Titas bridge in eastern Bangladesh was built at a cost of around $ 25 million.

Railway sources said the new train would start its commercial operation from November 16.

Apart from Kolkata and Khulna, there will be two stops - Petrapole (in India) for around 10 minutes and Benapole (in Bangladesh) for around 15 minutes.

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The bridges will reduce travel time between Dhaka and Chittagong and Dhaka and Sylhet and trains using dual gauge and broad gauge tracks will be able to run on them.

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