Prime minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Thursday launched a new passenger train service between Khulna and Kolkata through a video conference, reports UNB. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also described it as a historic day for both the countries.
The Bandhan Express, meaning a train of bond, is the second cross-border passenger rail service between the two neighbouring countries, the first being Moitree Express that runs between Bangladesh capital Dhaka and Kolkata.
The Prime Minister said he was happy that work on the $8 billion concessional finance of the project was on track.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, PM's Economic Affairs Adviser Moshiur Rahman, Political Affairs Adviser HT Imam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Indian High Commissioner to Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla and secretaries concerned were present at the Gono Bhaban. "This train service is a dream come true for people on both sides of the border".
Prime Minister Modi said he believed that the two nations will touch the new heights in development and prosperity as they strengthen ties and relations between the people.
"We want to cooperate with India and other countries in the immediate neighbourhood for creating an area of peace in South Asia where we can live as good neighbours and pursue constructive policies for our peoples benefit", she said. "I'm sure these connectivity initiatives will further consolidate this vision". "Our two countries are also working to re-open our pre-1965 rail links for cargo transport between Bangladesh and India". When the Barisal Express, which used to ferry passengers till 1965, was shut down, passengers were inconvenienced. I hope the ties between the two countries deepen. "Hasinaji I invite you to visit Bengal".
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She said it was yet another happy occasion in Bangladesh-India relations.
The fully air-conditioned weekly "Bandhan Express" will run every Thursday between Kolkata and Khulna. It would reach Khulna in Bangladesh at about 12 noon, IST.
The 11-hour Kolkata-Dhaka journey via Maitree Express has two stops for immigration checking - one at Gede (Nadia) in India and the other at Dorshona in Bangladesh.
The construction of the 984-meter long and seven-meter wide Bhairab Railway Bridge started on December 25, 2013 and ended last month, the Daily Star reported.
The new Titas Bridge is 218.7m in length and is 7m wide, built at a cost of 1.61bn taka by another Indian company, Gannon-Flcl Consortium, under a similar agreement with the government.