Bangladesh and India are set to link Dhaka and Kolkata by a train service expected to commence in July, as the railway authorities of the two South Asian neighbours were still negotiating the finer details ahead of the launch.
"We expect the train service between Dhaka and Kolkata to be launch by mid July," Communication secretary Mahbubur Rahman said after an inter-ministerial meeting on Tuesday.
He, however, said the final decision would be announced later this month after talks with Indian authorities. Rahman said preparatory works to launch the service from sub-urban Dhaka Cantonment Railway Station to the outskirts of Kolkata were continuing.
The Communication secretary said Bangladesh has proposed the direct passenger train to run three days a week to make the service viable while the Indian authorities were expected to accept the suggestion.
Earlier reports said the passenger train service was expected to begin from August as Bangladeshi and Indian railway authorities were still negotiating the finer details ahead of the launch.
Railway officials said laying of broad gauge tracks from Joydevpur to Kamalapur in Bangladesh has almost been completed. Bangladesh Railway officials said there would be three categories of fares: USD 8, USD 12 and USD 20.
Bangladesh will keep 78 per cent of the revenue while India will get the rest, as the distance between Shialdaha and the Bangladesh border is 120 kilometres while the length of the rail track in Bangladesh territory is 418 kilometres.
The two governments signed a pact in 2001 for the railway link during the tenure of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina of Awami League.