PM Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina had inaugurated the restored rail link on 17 December 2020.
After a span of more than 50 years, Indian and Bangladesh started regular freight train operations through the restored Haldibari-Chilahati rail route recently. This is expected to strengthen railway connectivity as well as bilateral trade between the two nations. PM Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina had inaugurated the restored rail link on 17 December 2020. However, after that, no train was officially run on the rail route due to the Covid pandemic situation. According to a PTI report, on Sunday at 10.30 AM, the stone chips laden freight train with 58 wagons rolled out of Dimdima railway station in Alipurduar. The train’s destination is Chilahati in Bangladesh via Haldibari.
From Haldibari station to the international border, the route distance is 4.5 kilometres and the distance is 7.5 kilometres from Chilahati till the ‘zero point’. The freight train, after crossing Haldibari railway station, arrived at the immigration check post at Khalpara-Dangapara, the report said. On Sunday, the Dhaka Tribune newspaper had reported that the railway link from Haldibari to Chilahati is the fifth railway link between India and Bangladesh that has been made operational. The items that can be exported through this rail route from India to Bangladesh include stones and boulders, fresh fruits, foodgrain, chillies, onion, garlic, ginger, fly ash, chemical fertilizer, limestone, wood and clay. All exportable supplies are allowed from Bangladesh to India.
After the Partition in the year 1947, as many as seven railway links were functional between India and Bangladesh (formerly known as East Pakistan) until the year 1965. At present, there are four railway links between the two countries that are operational. These functional rail links are Petrapole – Benapole, Gede – Darshana, Singhabad – Rohanpur, Radhikapur – Birol. The rail link between Haldibari and Chilahati is one such railway route that was operational till the year 1965. According to the report, the leadership of both nations are committed to reviving all the pre-1965 railway links between India and Bangladesh. The restoration work to revive this rail link was undertaken by the railways of both nations, the report added.