Neighbourhood First: Third train service to connect India & Bangladesh on June 1

The Mitali Express, is expected to take almost nine hours and cover over 513 Km s between New Jalpaiguri and Dhaka Cantonment station.

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The connectivity between Northeast and Bangladesh is expected to further enhance trade between the two sides. (Photo source: RailMinIndia)

As part of its “Neighbourhood First” policy, later in the week a third train service between India and Bangladesh will start. This will be connecting West Bengal’s New Jalpaiguri station in India to Dhaka in Bangladesh.

The Mitali Express, is expected to take almost nine hours and cover over 513 Km s between New Jalpaiguri and Dhaka Cantonment station.

Based on the information available in the public domain, with four air-conditioned cabin coaches and four air-conditioned chair cars, the train is going to be operated by a diesel engine.

What to expect on June 1?

The flagging off ceremony of Mitali Express is going to be flagged off from the Indian Railways Headquarters in New Delhi by Indian Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav and Bangladesh Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan. The train will travel between Dhaka to Siligiri/New Jalpaiguri, through the newly inaugurated Haldibari-Chilahati route. This railway route connectivity dates back to pre-1965 days.

For international travel between the two countries, there will be customs and immigration services in place too.

Bangladesh minister accompanied by top senior officials have already arrived in New Delhi, and after the inauguration the two sides will sit down for bilateral meetings in an effort to further enhance cooperation between the two countries.

The Bangladesh minister with his team will also visit some coach factories located in Kapurthala and other places.

Senior officials have confirmed that Bangladesh has expressed its plans to import some diesel locomotives and modern coaches.

Benefits of the new train

The new train will not only help in people-to -people connections, but is also expected to help in increasing tourism between the two countries. There are plans to have shopping malls, hospitals, and low-cost hotels that are expected to be constructed in the area which will help people to move around the stations.

The train in the early days will be bi-weekly and will leave New Jalpaiguri on every Thursday and Monday. And from neighbouring Dhaka, it will depart on Friday and Thursday.

Platform number IA has already been readied at the New Jalpaiguri station and the train will start from this point and there will be immigration and customs services available.

Connectivity between India and Bangladesh

As has been reported in Financial Express Online earlier, the two countries have been working together in an effort to improve and further enhance the rail connectivity. Several projects are being developed by both sides and at the same time some old railway links are being restored.

Some reports quoting senior government official have stated that there are a total of 17 railway projects which have been included in the Line of Credit extended to Bangladesh by India of USD 2.44 bn. And the rate of interest on the Indian LOC is 1 per cent per annum and to be repaid over 20 years and a moratorium of 5 years.

More to come

It has also been reported earlier that there will be connectivity between Northeast and Bangladesh and later this year the Akhaura and Agartala is expected to be completed and this will be another important milestone between the two countries. The connectivity between Northeast and Bangladesh is expected to further enhance trade between the two sides.

Expert View

“This will be 3rd transnational connectivity between the two countries and once this pre-1965 rail line becomes operational then all the six rail links between two countries are re-established,” says Gautam Lahiri, senior journalist and Bangladesh commentator.

Why is this important?

According to Gautam Lahiri, “This will boost not only people to people connection as well helping in promoting trade and tourism between the two sides especially for North east.”

Connectivity with ASEAN

Yes. “In future it may be a link in ambitious Asian Railway network to open up Asean countries for trade and at the same time it will be an alternative success route of aggressive China’s BRI,” he points out.

“There is a possibility of connecting this network to Kolkata as Dhaka-Kolkata are already connected by rail. Before 1965, this was the route from Kolkata to Siliguri which was closed after Pakistan war,” he says.

Adding, “Once the route is open distance between Kolkata and Siliguri or New Jalpaiguri will be reduced by atleast four hours.”

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