Kolkata: After two years of ‘distress’ due to pandemic, on Sunday there came ‘good news’ for two countries after Maitree Express and Bandhan Express once again resumed between India and Bangladesh.
According to railway sources, the Maitree Express train service between Dhaka and Kolkata resumed from Dhaka Cantonment Railway station and Bandhan Express started from Kolkata station on Sunday.
While Bandhan Express will run two days a week between Kolkata to Khulna, Maitree Express will run five days a week between Kolkata and Dhaka. Both the trains have air-conditioned chairs and executive class compartments.
In yet another development, Mitali Express is scheduled to start from June 1 from northern New Jalpaiguri to Dhaka. This is particularly as a tourist train which will enable tourists from Bangladesh to reach the hills, and the people from hills of Bengal to reach Bangladesh.
Eastern Railways spokesperson Ekalavya Chakraborty said that people of both sides of the border are excited with the new development.
“The train fare is affordable and a more comfortable journey than bus and cars. People are very excited and the booking is full for the next few days,” said Chakraborty.
The partition of India in 1947 disrupted rail links between two Bengals. In 2001, the two national governments agreed upon the railway train scheme during bilateral talks. The train service concept got a major boost during the visit of the then Indian Foreign Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, to Dhaka in February 2007. On July 8, 2007, the first train ran from Kolkata to Dhaka in a test run, carrying Indian government officials who were to meet their Bangladeshi counterparts to finalize train schedules.
Talking exclusively to Free Press Journal (FPJ), former secretary Ministry of External Affairs and former High Commisionerate to Bangladesh, Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, the first one to travel in Maitree Express expressed his happiness after the service got ‘renewed’.
“It was our plan to renew the connectivity between the two countries. Goods connectivity was there but there was no passenger connectivity. In 2008, on the day of Bengali New Year’s Day, we have started the Maitree Express from Dhaka to Kolkata and vice versa. Railway connectivity is always on the agenda as connectivity is an important part with Bangladesh,” said Chakravarty.
The former High Commisionerate to Bangladesh also said that the connectivity also provide a ‘boost’ to economy.
“The cost of trade goes down. More economic activities happen due to proper connectivity. Many people cannot afford air connectivity and they depend on rail and road. So this railway connectivity gives major boost to several things,” further mentioned Chakravarty.