Indo-B’desh rail connectivity strengthened

The Indian Railways handed over 10 locomotives to Bangladesh on July 27.
The Indian Railways handed over 10 locomotives to Bangladesh on July 27.

MALIGAON, JULY 27 (MExN): The Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) has stated that the handing over diesel locos by Indian Railways (IR) to Bangladesh Railways (BR) will further strengthen bilateral cooperation in promoting trade and connectivity. 

In a press release, the NFR said that Indo-Bangladesh rail cooperation is a vital element of bilateral cooperation in promoting trade and connectivity and in boosting the economic partnership. India and Bangladesh are jointly working to enhance rail connectivity by developing some crucial railway projects as well as by restoring some old rail links with Bangladesh. 

At present, the 4 operational rail links between India and Bangladesh connecting West Bengal with Bangladesh are: Petrapole (India) - Benapole (Bangladesh), Gede (India) – Darshana (Bangladesh), Singhabad (India) - Rohanpur (Bangladesh), Radhikapur (India) – Birol (Bangladesh).

Two passenger trains – Bandhan Express [Kolkata-Khulna] (2 days/ week) and Maitree Express [Kolkata-Dhaka] (5 days/ week) operate between the two countries. Their movement at the moment been temporarily suspended due to COVID pandemic. 

A total of 17 railway sector projects have been included in Line of Credit (LoC) assistance extended by India to Bangladesh, with a commitment of US$ 2.44 billion. India has offered all LoCs to Bangladesh at a rate of interest of 1% p.a., repayment over 20 years with a moratorium for 5 years.

Of these 17 railway sector projects, 9 have been  successfully completed including supply of BG/MG locomotives, flat wagons, railway bridges and signalling equipment, among others. Railway projects under implementation using LoC assistance include – Kulaura - Shahbazpur railway line at a cost of US$ 78 million, likely to be completed by end of this year; Khulna-Mongla railway line project worth USD 389 million (along with the railway bridge) likely to be completed by June 2021. Three other projects at various stages of implementation pertain to double line track, a conversion of meter gauge line to dual gauge line and a new dual gauge rail line.

In addition, cross border rail link of approx. 12 Kms is being built under Grant-in-Aid between Agartala and Akhaura town on the Dhaka - Chittagong trunk line. This is likely to be completed by March 2021 and will further enhance freight and passenger connectivity between North Eastern states of India with other states.

Meanwhile, the Indian Railways handed over 10 Broad Gauge Locomotives to Bangladesh on July 27. In a handing over ceremony held today, 10 Broad Gauge (BG) locomotives were virtually flagged off to Bangladesh by the External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar and the Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry, Piyush Goyal. The event was also attended by the Minister of State for Railways, Suresh C. Angadi.  

Speaking on the occasion, External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar said, “I am delighted to join this ceremony of handing over 10 locomotives to Bangladesh. I am glad to know that Parcel and container trains have been started between both the countries. This will open up new opportunities for our businesses. I am happy to note that movement of trade by rail have been ensured. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the supplies of essentials particularly in the holy month of Ramadan were ensured.” 

Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry, Piyush Goyal said, “These locomotives will be useful in handling the on-going freight train operations between India & Bangladesh. To ensure the usability of these locos in Bangladesh, they have been modified. We have been huge strides forward in our respective efforts at achieving development & growth. India & Bangladesh have come a long way in the last few years.”