Train to Khulna chugs out after 52 years

Train services to Khulna in Bangladesh from the city resumed on Thursday with the launch of the Bandhan Express.

By Our Bureau
  • Published 10.11.17
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The Bandhan Express leaves Calcutta on its ceremonial run on Thursday. (Sanat Kumar Sinha)

Chitpore/New Delhi: Train services to Khulna in Bangladesh from the city resumed on Thursday with the launch of the Bandhan Express.

The train is an attempt to revive the Barisal Express that stopped running after the 1965 Indo-Pak war.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee flagged off the train through a videoconference.

The train will leave Calcutta station every Thursday at 7.10am and reach Khulna at noon. On the return trip, the train will leave Khulna at 1.20pm and reach Calcutta at 6.10pm.

Also, the journey time between Calcutta and Dhaka will come down by at least two hours with the opening of an international passenger terminal at Calcutta station on Thursday.

Starting Friday, passengers of the Calcutta-Dhaka Maitree Express will have the immigration checks at the station instead of Gede in Nadia.

Modi, Hasina and Mamata inaugurated the services at the station through videoconference on Thursday while flagging off the Bandhan Express.

The second train between the two countries after the Maitree Express had its ceremonial run on Thursday. It will start ferrying passengers next Thursday.

"Passengers of the Maitree Express were inconvenienced as they had to spend four hours for immigration checks at the borders," a railway official said.

On the Indian side, the check was done at Gede, and across the border in Darsana.

Passengers of both trains will now have the checks at the new terminal in Calcutta station from Friday.

In Bangladesh, the checks will be done in Dhaka for the Maitree Express and in Benapole for the Bandhan Express.

The Maitree Express started in 2008, running twice a week. Last November, the frequency was increased to four times a week. The train leaves Calcutta every Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday at 7.10am. Starting Friday, it will reach Dhaka at 4.05pm instead of 6.05pm.

On the return trip, the train leaves Dhaka every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 6.10am and reaches Calcutta at 6.10pm. Starting Friday, it will reach Calcutta at 4pm.

The train travels 375km - 114km in India and 261km in Bangladesh.

The Bandhan Express will travel 172km - 77km in India and 95Km in Bangladesh.

The Maitree Express uses a rake each from India and Bangladesh but the Bandhan Express will have only an Indian rake for now, the railway official said.

The seating capacity will be 456 - 312 in AC Chair Car and 144 in AC First Class. It's the same number of seats as on the Maitree Express.

Both countries need people-to-people connectivity and the train is a move in that direction, Modi said.

Hasina called for more such initiatives between the countries.

Both the prime ministers inaugurated two railway bridges in Bangladesh.

Mamata termed the occasion historic and called for stronger ties between the neighbours.

The bridges are part of various development projects, for which India has given Bangladesh a soft loan. They have been built on the Meghna and the Titas rivers for train services from Dhaka to Chittagong and Sylhet.

India has built the kilometre-long second Bhairab Railway Bridge over the Meghna at almost Rs 487 crore. The other one over the Titas has cost almost Rs 162 crore.