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Breakfast in Khulna and lunch in Kolkata

Modi and Hasina flag off ‘friendship’ express between India and Bangladesh; bus services too begin

April 08, 2017 11:01 pm | Updated 11:52 pm IST

Heart to heart:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Bangladeshi counterpart, Sheikh Hasina, at the ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan  on Saturday.

Heart to heart: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Bangladeshi counterpart, Sheikh Hasina, at the ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Saturday.

To loud cheers and applause, the five-coach diesel-hauled Khulna-Kolkata train chugged in to the Petrapole railway station on the India-Bangladesh border on Saturday.

The day also saw the inaugural trial run of the Kolkata-Khulna-Dhaka bus service.

The train rolled from the Khulna railway station at 8 a.m. and entered India around 1.40 p.m. with a 43-member Bangladesh delegation.

Railway officials greeted the Bangladeshi delegation with bouquets and garlands. At several places along the railway line in West Bengal, villagers gathered by the side of the tracks, waving at the decked-up train.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart, Sheikh Hasina, inaugurated the trial run of the train through videoconference earlier in the day.

Taking relations forward

The Khulna-Kolkata train, also known as Maitree Express-II, travels 176 km — 96 km in Bangladesh and the rest in India.

“The regular services are expected to kick off from July this year from Kolkata to Khulna through Petrapole- Benapole (on the Bangladesh side of the border),” said Basudev Panda, Divisional Railway Manager, Sealdah, Eastern Railway.

Mr. Panda said the frequency of the services would be decided later.

Syed Salma Jafreen, Deputy Secretary, Bangladesh Ministry of Home Affairs, said the train would give a momentum to collaboration between the two countries.

Train services from Sealdah to Khulna and Jessore started much before the Partition.

The services were suspended following the 1965 war between India and Pakistan.

East Pakistan became Bangladesh after the 1971 war of liberation.

Train services between the two countries started in April 14, 2008, when Maitree Express was launched.

Dhaka in 13 hours

The trial run of Kolkata-Khulna-Dhaka bus service also began on Saturday. Three buses were flagged-off from Nabanna, the State administrative headquarters in the presence of senior officials of West Bengal government.

According to State government officials, the buses will reach Khulna in seven hours and Dhaka in 13 hours.

Prior to this, bus services along the Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala and the Kolkata-Dhaka routes were made operational.

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