Train enters Bangladesh through new Haldibari-Chilahati route
The first train from India chugged into Bangladesh along the Haldibari-Chilahati railway route on Sunday, around seven-and-a-half months after the route, closed in 1965, was reopened by both the nations.
Loaded with 2,200 metric tonnes of stone chips, the goods train with 40 wagons entered the neighbouring country through what is the third such route between India and Bangladesh in north Bengal and the fifth in Bengal.
Around 4.35pm on Sunday, the train that started from Damdim, a station in the Dooars, crossed the international border and reached Chilahati station in Bangladesh.
“It is a major development in the rail network of north Bengal and will largely boost bilateral trade with Bangladesh. A number of neighbouring countries can send their goods through this route. In due course, the passenger train service will also commence through this route between Dhaka and Siliguri,” said Jayanta Roy, the BJP MP of Jalpaiguri.
The link provides a shorter transit route for goods to be sent to Bangladesh from Bengal and Northeast, and Nepal and Bhutan and viceversa, pointed out an NFR official.
Senior officers of the NFR, the BSF and Customs were present at Haldibari station for necessary formalities after which the train headed to the zero line. Officers of the Border Guards Bangladesh and Bangladesh Railway were present on the other side of the border, said sources.
On December 17 last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina had inaugurated virtually the route on pause since 1965.
“Trains bound for north Bengal and Northeast used to run along the route even after Partition through then East Pakistan. But, during the 1965 war, train movement stopped on the route,” said an official of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR). However, the longstanding demand of north Bengal residents to reopen the route eventually made the issue come up in bilateral talks.