Kolkata: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday jointly flagged off the Bandhan Express via video conferencing. The train will run between Kolkata and Khulna. “The train would be dubbed as ‘Bandhan Express’ and it will operate on the 177-km-long Khulna-Kolkata route. The cross-country service would start ferrying passengers from November 16,” a Bangladesh railway spokesman said. PM Modi expressed happiness after the inauguration of projects, saying this would strengthen our connectivity.
As per the schedule, it would leave Kolkata at 11 am (Indian time) and reach Khulna after four-and-a-half-hour-long journey. Officials in the Bangladesh prime minister’s office said that the two premiers would inaugurate the service through video-conferencing. They would also launch two railway bridges, built with Indian line of credit, and an “end-to-end” immigration facility to ease Dhaka-Kolkata ‘Maitree’ train services, they added.
At present, Indians going to Bangladesh or Bangladeshis visiting India have to complete the immigration process at Darshana station in Bangladesh and at India’s Gede point, where they have to wait for hours. The two new bridges have been built on the Bhairab and the Titas rivers for the second track for simultaneous operation of up and down train services from Dhaka to southeastern Chittagong and northeastern Sylhet.
“We will call the new structures as the second Bhairab bridge and the second Titas bridge,” a railway official said. The 984-metre-long and seven-metre-wide Bhairab Railway Bridge was built at a cost of 567 crore Taka while the 218-metre-long and 70-metre-wide new Titas Bridge has been built at a cost of 161 crore Taka by two Indian companies.