Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi Thursday jointly flagged off the Khulna-Kolkata train service and opened two bridges on railway routes connecting Dhaka with Sylhet and Chittagong.
The two premiers along with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the projects through a videoconferencing from Dhaka and New Delhi.
They also launched an “end to end” immigration and customs facilities to ease Dhaka-Kolkata Maitree Train services.
PM Hasina opened the projects from her official Ganabhaban residence in Dhaka, while Narendra Modi inaugurated the schemes from his office in New Delhi. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee joined the inauguration from Kolkata.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, PM’s Political Affairs Adviser HT Imam, Economic Affairs Adviser Dr Moshiur Rahman, State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam and Dr Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, MP, were also present at Ganabhaban, while Railways Minister Mazibul Haque joined the videoconferencing from the second Bhairab Bridge site.
The two new railway bridges — the second Bhairab and the second Titas –were built on the Meghna and Titas rivers respectively.
The Khulna-Kolkata train Bandhan Express was launched to ease further communication between Bangladesh and India.
The train will start ferrying passengers from November 16 and according to the schedule, it would leave Kolkata at 11am (Indian time) and reach Khulna within only four and a half hours by plying 177 kilometres.
The two railway bridges were constructed with the Indian Line of Credit (LoC).
ECNEC had approved the initiative on November 9 in 2010 to smoothen the Dhaka-Chittagong Double Line train services, said Md Abdul Hai, Bangladesh Railway’s eastern zone general manager and project director of the two bridges.