According to Indian Railways, the route will be around 200 km less than the current route of 573 km and will see trains enter Bangladesh at the Petrapole-Benapole border and exit at the Chilahati-Haldibari border, located in northern part of West Bengal.
India-Bangladesh railway connectivity to get a boost! Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways is all set to revive the old Siliguri-Sealdah route via Bangladesh by the year 2021, states a ToI report. Initially, the line is likely to become operational with goods trains, however, passenger trains may start later. If that happens, the train travel time to Siliguri would be reduced from 11 to 7 hours. According to Indian Railways, the route will be around 200 km less than the current route of 573 km and will see trains enter Bangladesh at the Petrapole-Benapole border and exit at the Chilahati-Haldibari border, located in northern part of West Bengal. To reach Sealdah via the Benapole-Petrapole border, train services from Siliguri will pass through Chilahati, Toronbari, Nilfamari, Domar, Sayeedpur, Parbatipur, Darshana after crossing Haldibari.
For infrastructure development at Haldibari, Indian Railways has already sanctioned an amount of Rs 11 crore in addition to Rs 31 crore, which was sanctioned earlier. The Bangladesh railway has reportedly sanctioned Rs 80.17 crore in order to develop infrastructure, including fresh rail tracks along 7.5 km on this section. New Jalpaiguri ADRM Pratim Roy was quoted in the report saying that the aim is to finish the work by 2021. Moreover, rail tracks are being laid to operate trains, he said.
Work on a 3 km stretch of the 3.05 km long track that is to be laid from Haldibari railway station up to the zero point on the Indo-Bangla border has been completed, informed Haldibari’s acting station master. Also, a flyover is being constructed as well as electric signalling is being overhauled. Two platforms of 560 m are also nearing completion. Additionally, the old sleepers, which had the capacity to bear 60 kg load are being replaced by the new ones that can sustain up to 90 kg load, the report said.
For the first time, a train engine from NJP operated up to the Bangladesh border on the Haldibari-Chilahati route in the month of March since the route was closed in 1965, following Indo-Pak war. In the year 2011, a pact was signed between India and Bangladesh for cultural exchange and various activities between the two neighbouring countries.