The newly inaugurated Bandhan Express has begun its first commercial operation between Kolkata and Khulna.
The train left Benapole for Khula with 53 passengers and 12 staff members around 9:45am on Thursday.
Benapole Railway Station Master Saiduzzaman said: “The capacity of the train is 456 passengers but it left for Khulna with only 53 passengers.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi inaugurated the Bandhan Express service via video conference on November 9, restoring a link which has lain idle for over six decades.
The new cross-border train service will re-establish the rail link between the southwest region of Bangladesh and the heart of the Indian state of West Bengal which was snapped in the 1950s, a few years after the Partition.
The Bandhan Express train will run twice a week in either direction.
Eastbound, it will depart from Kolkata at 11 in the morning and cover the 177km to Khulna in around four-and-a-half hours. In the other direction, the train will depart from Khulna at 11:30 in the morning.
Earlier Habibur Rahman, additional director general of Bangladesh Railways, said the fare has been fixed at $10 [around Tk830] for regular AC seats and $15 [around Tk1,245] for more comfortable AC seats.
The two neighbouring countries already have a cross-border train service named Maitree Express, connecting Dhaka and Kolkata.
Following the success and popularity of Maitree Express, which was launched on April 14, 2008, the two governments decided to reconnect Khulna and Kolkata via a direct rail link.