To further strengthen people-to-people connectivity through the railways between India and Bangladesh, the two countries started a new passenger train service, Mitali Express, via the recently-restored Haldibari-Chilahati rail link on Wednesday.
The third passenger train service between India and Bangladesh, which was virtually inaugurated by the Prime Ministers of the two countries on March 27 last year, was flagged off virtually by Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and his Bangladeshi counterpart Mohammad Nurul Islam Sujan.
The train service could not be started earlier due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Vaishnaw said Mitali Express will be yet another milestone in strengthening the bond between the two neighbouring countries.
The train will run bi-weekly (departure from New Jalpaiguri at 11.45 a.m. on Sunday and Wednesday, arrival in Dhaka at 10.30 p.m. on the same days and departure from Dhaka at 9.50 p.m. on Monday and Thursday and arrival in New Jalpaiguri at 7.15 a.m. on Tuesday and Friday) and cover a distance of 595 kilometres (of which a 61-kilometre stretch is in India).
The LHB coach of the Indian Railways (like the ones used in the Maitree Express and Bandhan Express trains) will be used, comprising four First AC, four AC Chair Car and two Power cars. There will be three classes -- AC First (Cabin) Sleeper, AC First (Cabin) seat and AC Chair car, and the fare will be $44, $33 and $22 respectively.
The new passenger service, Mitali Express, will give a boost to both countries' tourism since it connects Bangladesh with north Bengal as well as the northeastern region of India. It will also provide an access to Nepal to Bangladeshi citizens via India by rail.
The new train is in addition to two existing passenger train services -- Kolkata-Dhaka-Kolkata Maitree Express (five days a week) and Kolkata-Khulna-Kolkata Bandhan Express (two days a week) -- between India and Bangladesh. The services of the above two trains, which were suspended due to Covid restrictions, were resumed on May 29.