Bangladesh and India are set to introduce a new passenger train service between Dhaka and New Jalpaiguri of India from 26 March this year– the day Bangladesh begins the golden Jubilee celebrations of its independence.
The announcement came after a detailed discussion was held between an eight-member team of Bangladesh railway officers led by Mohammed Shahidul Islam, the divisional railway manager of Bangladesh railways' Paksey division, and a team from the Indian Northeast Frontier Railway led by RK Verma, manager of Katihar Divisional Railway, in New Jalpaiguri on 22-24 February.
According to the Bangladesh delegation chief, the Bangladesh government wanted to run the train between Dhaka and Siliguri but Siliguri does not have the required infrastructure. New Jalpaiguri has the biggest railway station in North Bengal and is just 6km away from Siliguri.
The non-stop passenger train with 10 carriages, running between Dhaka and Jalpaiguri, will cover a distance of 513 kilometres. This will also be the third passenger train between the two countries. The other two are: Maitree Express that runs between Kolkata and Dhaka, and Bandhan Express that connects Kolkata and Khulna.
Maitree express was launched on 14 April 2008 while Bandhan express ran on 9 November 2017.
According to the meeting decision, the new train will ply from New Jalpaiguri on Monday and Thursdays and from Dhaka on Fridays and Tuesdays.
Custom and immigration facilities will be provided at New Jalpaiguri and Dhaka railway stations. The nonstop service will take 9 hours to reach the destination.
The name of the train and its fare are yet to be decided.
In October 2020, the Ministry of Railways in Bangladesh announced that Bangladesh and India were planning to introduce a passenger train service on Dhaka-Siliguri route from this March as the restoration work of Chilahati-Haldibari rail link was nearly complete.
Later on 17 December last year, India and Bangladesh reopened an old railway route that used to connect Chilahati station (Nilphamari in Bangladesh) to Haldibari station (in Cooch Behar) after a gap of over 50 years.
The prime ministers of both the countries jointly inaugurated the route for freight train services.
Though freight trains are operating between Bangladesh and India, Maitree and Bandhan express have remained suspended since last March due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.