India-Bangladesh ties: Indian railways to restore Kolkata –Khulna passenger train service

India-Bangladesh ties: Indian railways to restore Kolkata –Khulna passenger train service

Indian Railways all set to restore the Kolkata –Khulna passenger train service in July 2017 after a gap of nearly seventy years.

A trail run of the service from Khulna to Kolkata from Benapole (on the Bangladesh side) will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the visiting Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina on Saturday (April 8, 2017) through video link from New Delhi. This is part of a series of steps being taken by the two government to increase co-operation between the two neighbouring countries. On Saturday, a bus service will also be inaugurated between Kolkata–Khulna-Dhaka. It will be flagged off from the state’s administrative headquarters at Nabanna.

This will be the second passenger service between the two countries. The first such service ‘Maitree Express’ was flagged off between Kolkata and Dhaka Cantonment stations in April 2008. After the passage of nine years, there is growing demand for more railway connections between Indian and Bangladesh.

On Saturday S N Agrawal, General Manager, Eastern & South Eastern Railways, Satish Kumar, Addl. General Manager, Eastern Railway, Basudev Panda, Divisional Railway Manager, Sealdah, Eastern Railway will be present at Petrapole (on the Indian side) to receive senior railway officials from Bangladesh.

Interestingly, much before an international border came up and political realignments changed the landscape of the two Bengals, regular passenger services connected Sealdah to Khulna and Jessore through the Petrapole-Benapole route. This was before the creation of East Pakistan in 1947, which later became independent Bangladesh in 1971. Nearly 30 years after the independence of Bangladesh, the Indo-Bangla rail corridor of Petrapole-Benapole was re-opened in January 2001 by running of goods trains. These trains are now running on regular basis.

“More recently, in keeping with popular demand from citizens of both countries, the governments of India and Bangladesh have decided to start passenger trains between Kolkata and Khulna through this route from July 2017,” Eastern Railway said.
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