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Kolkata-Dhaka train service resumes after 43 years
April 14, 2008 10:43 IST
The Dhaka-Kolkata direct train service resumed on Monday after a gap of four decades as the Moitree Express, with 370 passengers aboard, left the Cantonment Station in Dhaka following a colourful ceremony coinciding with the Bengali New Year celebrations.
The service aims to facilitate easy movement between the two countries after 43 years.
"The service will strengthen people to people connectivity of the two neighbouring countries," Communication Adviser of the interim Bangladeshi cabinet, Golam Kader said as railway officials greeted the passengers with flowers.
The interim government's advisers for foreign, commerce and local government ministries, foreign envoys, including Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, and other senior officials attended the launching of the service.
Foreign Adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury said the train was expected to be a 'goodwill ambassador' for the two countries as relations between the two neighbours now reached a new trajectory.
Railway officials said they were forced to add an extra compartment to the train due to the high demands of tickets for the maiden voyage.
Bangladesh and India had signed the final agreement for resuming the Dhaka-Kolkata train services earlier this week, after the cabinets of the two countries endorsed the deal.
The service was snapped during the 1965 Indo-Pak war when Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan. However, India and Bangladesh in 1996 resumed a direct bus service between Dhaka and Kolkata.
The Moitree (friendship) Express will operate weekly between the Cantonment Railway Station in Dhaka and Chitpur station in Kolkata passing through the Darshana border in a 13 to 14 hour long journey.
The journey, stretched over 538 km, will cover 418 km across Bangladesh and 120 km across India.
The fare has been fixed at $8 per person for economy class and $12 per person for a seat in the air-conditioned compartment. A sleeping berth will cost $20. Passengers will be allowed to carry 35 kg while a child below five years of age can carry 20 kg without any charge.