As passenger train services between Dhaka and Siliguri are likely to resume operations soon- the Indian Home Ministry has added New Jalpaiguri as an immigration check post for travel to Bangladesh via 'Mitali Express'.
The decision was taken in order to enhance trade and passenger travel between the neighbouring countries, reports The Print.
Presently there are three railway check posts-Chitpur, Gede, and Haridaspur at the India-Bangladesh border which is managed by the Indian Bureau of Immigration.
The notification mentions that the 'New Jalpaiguri Railway Check Post' in the district of Jalpaiguri of West Bengal is an authorized Immigration Check Post for entry into/exit from India with valid travel documents for all classes of passengers.
The central government of India gave nod to resume rail services between India-Bangladesh after Covid induced closures on 11 April.
The transit points- Chitpur, Gede and Haridaspur, have got the requisite clearance from the Indian government to resume operation, but the newly added transit point New Jalpaiguri was in the process and now it has been done, added the report.
There were long-pending demands for the reopening of train travel between India and Bangladesh that were suspended due to COVID-19. It will boost trade and passenger movement across the border.
In 2021, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Bangladesh, a new passenger train 'Mitali Express' connecting Dhaka and New Jalpaiguri on the Indian side was inaugurated jointly by Modi and PM of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina.
This is the third passenger train after Maitree Express (Dhaka-Kolkata) and Bandhan Express (Khulna-Kolkata) running between the two neighbouring countries.
The train service on all routes was suspended after the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.
Fares, schedules of Mitali Express
According to a press release issued by the Bangladesh Railway (BR), Mitali Express will run from Dhaka's Cantonment on Mondays and Thursdays.
Meanwhile, the train will operate from New Jalpaiguri (NJP) on Sundays and Wednesdays and customs as well as immigration facilities will be provided at the stations in NJP, Dhaka Cantonment and Chilahati.
It will leave Dhaka at 9:50pm on Mondays and Thursdays and will reach NJP at 7:15am on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The train will then leave NJP at 11:45am on Sundays and Wednesdays and reach Dhaka at 10:30pm on the same days.
BR will sell tickets in three categories and each ticket of berth would be $44 and 15% VAT and Tk500 travel tax would be added to the ticket price.
With all that included the one-way travel on a berth will cost Tk4,905.
Meanwhile, each cabin seat would be $33, meaning the total cost of a ticket would be Tk3,805, while a chair seat would be $22, meaning the ticket would be Tk 2,705.
However, tickets for children aged below five would be 50% of the regular cost.
Passenger train services between Bangladesh and India were suspended in March 2020 following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Before the suspension, two trains operated between the countries - Maitree Express on the Dhaka-Kolkata route and Bandhan Express on the Khulna-Kolkata route.