India, Bangladesh to start bi-weekly passenger train from March 26
India and Bangladesh on Wednesday announced a bi-weekly train between New Jalpaiguri (NJP) in north Bengal and Dhaka in Bangladesh starting March 26, the day the neighbouring country begins the golden jubilee celebrations of its independence.
The non-stop passenger train with ten bogeys, running between New Jalpaiguri and Dhaka, will cover a distance of 513km. This will also be the third passenger train between the two countries. The other two are: Maitree Express that runs between Kolkata and Dhaka, and Bandhan Express that connects Kolkata and Khulna.
Ravindra Kumar Verma, divisional railway manager of India’s Katihar division, said: “We held a detailed discussion with a team of Bangladesh railway officers led by Mohammed Shahidul Islam, the divisional railway manager of Bangladesh’s railways’ Paksey division, who arrived in Siliguri on February 22.”
The Haldibari-Chilahati (in Bangladesh) train route was opened after a gap of 55 years for goods trains on December 17 last year. The passenger train between New Jalpaiguri and Dhaka will take the same route.
Islam said, “The train services will improve the bilateral relations between the two countries and will boost the tourism industry in both the countries.”
The name of the train and its fare are yet to be decided, said Verma. Custom and immigration facilities will be provided at NJP and Dhaka railway stations. The train will ply from NJP on Thursdays and Fridays and from Dhaka on Fridays and Tuesdays.
Once the passenger train service on the Haldibari-Chilahati route is resumed, many other trains between North Bengal and Kolkata could avoid detours, taking this route instead.
Islam said the Bangladesh government wanted to run the train between Siliguri, North Bengal’s biggest town, and Dhaka. “But Siliguri didn’t have the required infrastructure, so it had to be NJP instead,” he said. NJP has the biggest railway station in North Bengal and is just 6km away from Siliguri.
Meanwhile, the development brings hope for tour operators. Sandipan Ghosh, secretary of Eastern Himalaya Travel and Tour Operators Association, and Samrat Sanyal, general secretary of Himalayan Hospitality and Tourism Development Network, said the services would ease the movement of tourists and people of the two countries who have close ties.