Bondhon Express, the long awaited passenger train service between Bangladesh’s southern district Khulna and West Bengal capital Kolkata, is set to begin operation on November 16.
Eight years after initiating railway communication between Khulna and Kolkata, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi are expected to inaugurate the second railway service between the two through a video conference on November 9.
Belal Uddin, chief operation superintendent of Bangladesh Railway (West zone), told Dhaka Tribune that a welcome trip of Bondhon express will run on November 9, in the presence of high officials of the railway authorities of both countries.
According to Bangladesh Railway Authority, railway officials of Bangladesh and India decided the launching date at a meeting held at Fairlie Place, Eastern Railway headquarters, on October 25.
The team from Bangladesh at the meeting was led by Belal Uddin, while the Indian team was headed by Chief Traffic Manager (Eastern zone) Chandrima Roy.
Indian Railways (Eastern zone) will provide the train for the Bondhon express, said Bangladesh Railway (West zone) officials. Whether any Bangladeshi trains would be added to this service will be decided in further meetings by the authorities concerned.
The Bondhon Express will operate on a weekly basis on the Kolkata-Khulna-Kolkata rail route, every Thursday. Prices for the tickets are yet to be decided. Bangladesh has proposed to keep the price at $8 for the air-conditioned chair and $12 for the cabin, whereas India has proposed $10 for the air-conditioned chair and $15 for the cabin.
Customs clearance and checking procedures have been simplified for the new service. Customs procedures will be conducted at Kolkata and Benapole. The new Bondhon Express contains 456 seats within its 312 cabins as well as 144 chairs.
Bangladesh Railway (West zone) officials have also informed that a technical committee has been formed regarding the preparation for the inauguration of Bondhon express.
Due to the India-Pakistan War in 1965, the Dhaka-Kolkata train service was cut-off before being reopened in April 2008.