'Bandhan Express', linking Kolkata with Khulna, flagged off
Kolkata: Cementing their close ties and connectivity links, India and Bangladesh on Thursday opened a new rail line between Kolkata and Khulna with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee jointly flagging-off the "Bandhan Express" via video-conferencing.
The dignitaries also inaugurated the International Passenger Rail Terminal, End-to-End Immigration and Customs Clearance Facilities (for passengers of Maitree Express and Bandhan Express) at Kolkata station, under the India-Bangladesh Cooperation in Railways.
Rail bridges over river Titas and Bhairabh in Bangladesh were also launched, to speed up connectivity between Dhaka and Chittagong.
The air-conditioned weekly passenger train will have a seating capacity of 456 that will be covering 172 km on every Thursday to connect Kolkata with Khulna.
Speaking in Bengali, the Prime Minister said:
"Aaj ei shubho upolokkhe dui deshbashider amar abhinandan janai. Aaj amader maitree-r bandhan aro sudhriro holo" (I congratulate the people of the two countries on this auspicious occasion. Our friendship got further strengthened today)."
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the day would be marked as a "great day for relations between the two countries with the inauguration of the train services and the two bridges."
She further stated: "We have decided that all the rail routes which were operational between India and Bangladesh before 1965 will start once again. Services on some routes have already started and I believe that the rest will also start."
Terming the day as a historical one for both India and Bangladesh, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said: "Friendship and unity of both the countries will get more strengthened with the operation of Bandhan Express between Kolkata and Khulna. India and Bangladesh share a good relation and it is one of the best friends of our country."
She maintained: "People will be benefitted as it will take two hours time less to reach the destination. People were inconvenienced as it stopped in 1965. I can recollect when I was the Railway Minister, the goods and passengers facility had started through Bongaon Petrapole. Bus services have also started between Kolkata and Dhaka."
Banerjee also invited the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to visit Bengal.