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Boost to freight traffic?

The first passenger train to Bangladesh after 43 years is also good news for the freight sector. Rakeeb Hossain reports.

india Updated: Apr 15, 2008 00:48 IST
Rakeeb Hossain

The first passenger train to Bangladesh after 43 years is also good news for the freight sector. Talks are on between railway officials of the two countries about increasing the frequency of goods trains to Bangladesh and using modern high-capacity wagons. "Passenger trains are more of a goodwill gesture, more about sentiment. But goods traffic movement is the real revenue earner for the railways. We are optimistic that this revived passenger service will help goods traffic movement between the two countries," said a railway spokesperson.

Goods trains between the two countries started in 2001 after a gap of 35 years when Mamata Banerjee was railway minister. On average, at least two freight trains travel to Bangladesh with foodgrains, sugar, edible oil, fertilisers, salt, stone products and other items every day and two empty rakes come back to India. Every month, 100 to 125 rakes, loaded with goods, travel between India and Bangladesh.

K.L. Pandey, Eastern Railway's chief commercial manager, said: "Last year, Eastern Railway earned Rs 9 crore from freight to Bangladesh."

But there are some problems. When the agreement between the two countries was signed, wagon specifications were listed. If new high-capacity wagons are to be used now, amendments will have to be made to the agreement, which is a bilateral issue.