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Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi inaugurated the Khulna-Kolkata rail link Bandhan Express

 

 

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have formally launched the Dhaka-Kolkata Maitree Express’s end-to-end immigration and customs services and flagged off the Khulna-Kolkata Bandhan Express service.

The launch was the fulfilment of a long cherished dream and another happy occasion in Bangladesh-India relations, Hasina said at a press conference at the Ganabhaban on Thursday.

I am also confident that these services would give a boost to cultural exchanges and tourism between our two peoples, she said.

I hope this fine display of mutuality of our relationship will further strengthen our bilateral relations.

Two rail bridges on the Bhairab and the Titas were also inaugurated on Thursday to speed up connectivity between Dhaka and Chittagong.

Hasina was joined at the video conference by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from Kolkata and Prime Minister Modi and Indian Foreign Minister Susma Swaraj from New Delhi, and Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam.

Until today the Maitree Express had stopped for immigration and customs services at Chuadanga’s Darshana and Murshibad.

Now those on the Bangladesh side of the border can complete their immigration processing before leaving Dhaka. Passengers will go through India’s immigration process after the arrival in Kolkata. The decision will reduce travel time by approximately three hours.

The Khulna-Kolkata Bandhan Express route will begin services on a trial basis from Thursday. Regular services will begin Nov 16. It will be the first service on the route in 52 years. The route was closed during the Pakistan-era due to the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War.

The train will have 156 seats, with air conditioned berths costing Tk 1,500 and air conditioned seats costing Tk 1,000.

The Bandhan will leave Bangladesh at 1:15pm local time from Khulna. It will arrive at Jessore’s Benapole at 2:55pm and arrive in Kolkata at 6:10pm local time. The train from Kolkata will set off at 7:10am and arrive in Khulna around 12:05pm.

The Maitree Express schedule has also changed. The train will leave Dhaka at 8am and arrive in Kolkata at 4pm local time. The train from Kolkata will leave at 7:10am and arrive in Dhaka around 4:05pm.

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