Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi today flagged off the first Khulna-Kolkata passenger train “Bandhan Express”.
The two prime ministers, through video conferencing, also inaugurated two new railway bridges over the rivers Bhairab and Titas, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was present at the flag-off event held in Kolkata.
Speaking at the event, Hasina said: “Today is a great day for relations between the two countries. This train service is a dream come true for people on both sides of the border.”
Modi said, India takes pride in being a “reliable partner” in Bangladesh’s development and said the two bridges, built at a cost of USD 100 million out of India’s credit to Bangladesh, would help strengthen the rail network of the latter.
He said development and connectivity are linked with each other and the ties between India and Bangladesh, particularly between West Bengal and Bangladesh, are decades old.
Mamata Banerjee described the launch of the train service as a remarkable day for India and Bangladesh. “The relations between the two countries will strengthen in the future,” she said.
The 'Bandhan Express' will run every Thursday from both Kolkata and Khulna. It will cover a distance of 177km in four and half hours.
The train on the route would, however, be open to passengers from November 16. The train, according to the schedule, would leave Kolkata at 11 am (Indian time) and reach Khulna within four and half hours.
The construction of the 984-meter long and seven-meter wide Bhairab Railway Bridge had started on December 25, 2013 and ended last month. India's Ircon-Afcons joint venture constructed the bridge having both dual gauge and broad-gauge facilities.
An international rail passenger terminal was also inaugurated at Chitpur in Kolkata for passenger of existing Moitree Express between Kolkata and Dhaka. This will help ease customs and immigration formalities and cut the travel time between Dhaka and Kolkata by three hours.
The bridge over the Titas was built by another Indian company Gammon-Flcl Consortium.