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India, Bangladesh launch cross-border passenger train service
10 November 2017, 12:58 | Marta Robbins
Bandhan Express: New Passenger Train Between Kolkata And Khulna in Bangladesh Flagged Off
The Bandhan Express train, which will operate between the eastern Indian city of Kolkata and Bangladesh's industrial city of Khulna, was flagged off by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladeshi Premier Sheikh Hasina from Delhi and Dhaka, respectively, via video-conferencing.
Rail bridges over river Titas and Bhairabh in Bangladesh were also launched, to speed up connectivity between Dhaka and Chittagong. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also described it as a historic day for both the countries.
"There should be enhanced people to people connectivity", Mr Modi said in his brief address.
The inauguration of the Kolkata-Khulna direct train service is seen as a key step to further boost bilateral ties, trade and people to people contacts between India and Bangladesh.
"The bridges worth $ 100 million will improve railway connectivity in Bangladesh", Mr Modi said.
He thanked Bangladesh Prime Minister Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for their support.
"The most important dimension of the connectivity is the people-to-people linkage", Prime Minister Modi said. She expressed happiness that the countries recently extended their connectivity to space.
As friendly nations, Hasina said, there has been an excellent relationship between the two countries and continuation of such relationship is very much essential.
This is the second train service launched between the two countries after the introduction of Maitree Express between Kolkata and Dhaka in 2008.
"India takes pride in being a development partner of Bangladesh".
India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during her visit to Bangladesh in October also stressed to increase the connectivity.
"The relations between the two countries will strengthen in the future", she said.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, PM's Economic Affairs Adviser Moshiur Rahman, Political Affairs Adviser HT Imam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Indian High Commissioner to Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla and secretaries concerned were present at the Gono Bhaban.
The two railway bridges were constructed with the Indian Line of Credit (LoC).
She said it was yet another happy occasion in Bangladesh-India relations.
The 982.20m long and 7m width Bhairab Railway Bridge was built at a cost of 5.67bn taka, with construction beginning in 2013. This is expected to reduce travel time between Dhaka and Kolkata by almost three hours.
Dhaka - Bangladesh and India have restored a railway connection more than five decades after it was suspended because of a war.
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