SAARC meet: New Delhi for Pak-Bangla train via India, Nepal | world | Hindustan Times
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SAARC meet: New Delhi for Pak-Bangla train via India, Nepal

world Updated: Jul 26, 2009 15:14 IST

In a bid to strengthen intra-regional connectivity and unite hearts of people of South Asia, India has proposed a demonstration train between Pakistan and Bangladesh via its territory and that of Nepal.

The Indian proposal for running a trial train from Pakistan to Bangladesh via India and Nepal was welcomed by the SAARC member states at the meeting of their Transport Ministers in Colombo on Saturday.

The ministers agreed that the objective of providing connectivity is not just about upgrading transport links, but to unite the hearts and minds of the people of South Asia, officials said.

India and Bangladesh had resumed their rail service last year after a gap of 43 years, with the run of Moitree Express from Dhaka to Kolkata.

A war in 1965 between India and Pakistan, of which Bangladesh was a part until 1971, stopped the cross-border passenger train service which covers a distance of 538 kms, with 418 kms in Bangladesh and 120 kms in India.

Train links between India and Pakistan have also been operational.

The Indian delegation at the meeting was headed by RPN Singh, Minister of State for Road, Transport and Railways.

The possibility of train services between Sri Lanka and India in the future was also discussed during the meeting.

The popular ferry service between Thalaimannar on Sri Lanka's northwest coast and Dhanushkodi in India, which also had a railway link, was suspended during the 1980s due to the fighting between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan military.

"Sadly even between Sri Lanka and India, the regular ferry service that used to operate from Talaimanner to Rameshwaram has not been able to operate for over 25 years," the Sri Lankan minister said.

The grouping's ministers also agreed to name the decade from 2009 to 2019 as the 'SAARC Regional Transport Cooperation Decade' to foster cooperation among the nations in the region.

The SAARC Transport Ministers also discussed ways to reduce barriers at border crossings in the region to encourage more travel and transport of goods and measures to link the member states by a railway network, the Minister added.

SAARC groups India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan.