The Haldibari portion of Haldibari-Chilahati railway connection between India and Bangladesh is over.
Sanjive Roy, the general manager of the Indian Northeast Frontier Railway(NFR), visited Haldibari in Cooch Behar district on Monday to check the progress of the infrastructure work, The Telegraph reported.
"All necessary works, including laying of tracks on the Indian side, is almost complete. The completion of the entire project now depends on Bangladesh, where the laying of tracks is in progress," he said.
The Haldibari-Chilahati route was functional till the late sixties that is, before the India-Pakistan war. Trains, including Darjeeling Mail, used to move along this route through the then East Pakistan and reach Sealdah via Gede in Nadia.
The trains took the Chilahati-Nilphamari-Parbatipur-Santahar-Ishwardi-Hardinge Bridge-Bheramara-Darshana route in Bangladesh and then entered India through the Gede-Ranaghat section.
In 2011, the Indian and Bangladesh governments had decided to revive the route. The two countries carried out a joint survey which found that India would have to lay tracks for around 4.5km (from Haldibari station till zero point), while Bangladesh had to build tracks for 7.5km (from Chilahati station till zero point).
Chilahati is located in Nilfamari district under Rangpur division of Bangladesh.
In March 2018, a diesel loco had conducted a trial run till the zero point from Haldibari station. A senior NFR official said there would be seven tracks in Haldibari and five of them would be used by goods and passenger trains. One track would be kept for locos, while the other for movement of special trains of railway officials.
A 560m-long platform has come up at Haldibari, apart from restroom for the staff, residential quarters for railway employees and ticket counters.
The station building has also been renovated. A comprehensive automated signalling system will be commissioned in due course.
"Once the route is commissioned, goods trains will start chugging on the route. There is also a plan to operate passenger trains. Neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bhutan can carry out trade with Bangladesh through the new route," said a source in the NFR.
Haldibari is around 30km from Jalpaiguri.