To further strengthen the bilateral relationship between India and Bangladesh, the Ministry of Railways in India handed over 20 Broad Gauge (BG) locomotives to it’s eastern neighbour.
Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that the Indian government has also offered Bangladesh to use the IT system deployed by the PM-GATI SHAKTI scheme, which has 1600 layers of information based on satellite imagery. “The information which can be accessed layer by layer pinpoints the exact location of rivers, forests, towns, and rail links so planning can be streamlined. BISAG-N is an agency which has built the Geospatial Information System and IT platform behind Gati Shakti. The same agency can help Bangladesh too,” Mr. Vaishnaw said.
In keeping with the requirements of Bangladesh Railway, the locomotives have been suitably modified by the Indian side. These locomotives will help handle the increasing volume of passenger and freight train operations in Bangladesh, a railway spokesperson said. Previously in June 2020, the Indian Government provided 10 locomotives to Bangladesh as grant.
Indian Railways are also playing a vital role in improving and strengthening rail connectivity across the border and improving trade between both countries, Mr. Vaishnaw said. He said that the diesel locomotives provided by Railways are 330 horsepower machines with a speed potential of up to 120 kilometres per hour.
“As of now, five BG connectivity routes are operational— Geda- Darsana, Benapol- Petrapol, Singhabad- Rohanpur, Radhikapur-Birol and Haldibari-Chilahati. Work on two more cross-border rail connectivities, Akhaura-Agartala and Mahihasan-Shahbazpur are progressing well and are likely to be completed and commissioned shortly,” said Vaishnaw.
To enhance people-to-people contact, presently three pairs of passenger trains between India and Bangladesh, namely, Kolkata-Dhaka Maitree Express, Kolkata-Khulna Bandhan Express and New Jalpaiguri-Dhaka Mitali Express are running, the railway spokesperson further said.
Trade between both countries via rail has seen consistent growth with the interchange of close to 100 cargo trains per month and approximately 2.66 metric tonnes of cargo was sent to Bangladesh in the last financial year. The export commodities are stone, foodgrains, china clay, gypsum, maize, onion and other essential items, as and when required, from India.
Since 2020, permission has been given to operate parcel container and New Modified Goods rakes which normally carry agricultural products, fabrics, finished goods, light commercial vehicles and tractors. A new traffic of geo-synthetic bags has just started and 3 Parcel trains have been sent from Gujarat.