The direct train service, Bandhan Express, will re-establish the old rail link between Khulna and Kolkata
Bangladesh and India will inaugurate the long-awaited direct train service between Khulna and Kolkata on Thursday, restoring a link which has lain idle for over six decades.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Bandhan Express service via video conference at 11:30am, Bangladesh time.
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.
Although the service is being launched on Thursday, it will not start operating until November 16.
The Bandhan Express train will run twice a week in either direction.
Eastbound, it will depart from Kolkata at 11:00 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.
“The fare has been fixed at $10 [around Tk830] for regular AC seats and $15 [around Tk1,245] for more comfortable AC seats,” said Habibur Rahman, additional director general of Bangladesh Railways.
The official did not specify on which days of the week the trains would run.
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.
The Bangladesh and Indian premiers will also launch simplified immigration services for travellers using the Maitree Express on Thursday.
Furthermore, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the second Bhairab and second Titas railway bridges through the videoconference.
The new bridges, built under the Second Indian Line of Credit, will improve the Dhaka-Chittagong and Dhaka-Sylhet train services, said ministry sources.
Railways Minister Md Mazibul Hoque and other officials concerned will be present in Bhairab during the ceremony.