Eastern Times Correspondent, Dhaka, 22 march : Prime ministers of Bangladesh and India are expected to launch the new passenger train between the two countries on March 27, the second day of Indian prime minister’s official visit to Dhaka.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina selected “Mitali Express” as the name of the train and it would be finalised upon approval from the Indian side, railways ministry sources said.
The train would be operated between Dhaka and New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal four days a week, they added.
Although the two premiers may announce the service on March 27 but the train may not be operated on that day due to the ongoing suspension of tourist visas by Indian authorities, they said.
The railways ministry in October last year announced that Bangladesh and India were planning to introduce a passenger train service on Dhaka-Siliguri route from this March as the restoration work of Chilahati-Haldibari rail link was nearly complete.
After 55 years, rail communication between the countries via Chilahati-Haldibari route resumed in December. Freight trains were supposed to be regular since then, but that didn’t happen.
The operation of the nonstop ten-coach train was discussed at a two-day meeting between a team of Bangladesh Railway and Indian Railway last month.
Although Bangladesh wanted to operate the train between Siliguri and Dhaka, but Siliguri didn’t have the required infrastructure, so it had to be New Jalpaiguri instead, officials said after the meeting.
New Jalpaiguri has the biggest railway station in the northern part of West Bengal and is just six km away from Siliguri. It is a key junction between mainland India and north-eastern India.
Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, who would travel to Dhaka on March 26, were expected to flag off the new train service as part of efforts to revive the rail connectivity that had existed till 1965 between the two neighbours.
Customs and immigration facilities will be provided at NJP and Dhaka Cantonment railway stations. The train is expected to run from NJP on Sundays and Wednesdays and from Dhaka on Monday and Thursday, sources said.
Passenger trains travel between Dhaka-Kolkata and Khulna-Kolkata, but they have been suspended since March last year due to the pandemic. Freight trains are still operating.