rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » India has BIG PLANS for the Friendship Express

India has BIG PLANS for the Friendship Express

Last updated on: May 30, 2012 10:56 IST

India has BIG PLANS for the Friendship Express

     Next

Next

Four years after its inauguration, both India and Bangladesh are dreaming big as the Maitree Express chugs into the future, reports Syed Tashfin Chowdhury

As the Maitree Express rolled into the Dhaka Cantonment Station around 6:35 pm, an excitement seemed to build up among the crowd, which had been waiting for its arrival. The train was over 20 minutes late as it was supposed to reach the Dhaka Cantonment Station at 6:05 pm, although it did start on time -- at around 7:10 am -- from Kolkata.

Some porters rushed toward the train as it came to a stop by the dilapidated luggage trolleys on the platform.

Most of the youthful passengers were among the first to get out of the five-bogie long train, grab the trolleys and push these back toward the train doors, where family members or friends were waiting with their bags and luggage.

When rediff.com asked one of these passengers about the experience of the train journey, he said, "It was great", and quickly rushed past toward the exit of the station.

Click on NEXT for more...


Image: The Maitree Express rolls into the Dhaka Cantonment station
Photographs: Abdullah Apu

     Next

India has BIG PLANS for the Friendship Express

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Another passenger, Dr Faisal Ahmed from Bangladesh, who had gone to India on a week-long vacation, told rediff.com, "The entire train trip was good. But in the 10-hour long trip, over three hours were wasted in luggage checking in two different spots, once in Gede and again in Darsana. I think the service would be better if the time taken in luggage checking and immigration procedures is reduced."

Jolly Saha, another passenger, has just returned with her two children and husband after visiting her relatives in India. She echoed Faisal's views as she told rediff.com, "The service was good. But the luggage checking was tiring, especially for the children."

Himel, another passenger, observed about the Maitree Express, "The service till the Indian border was good. The train maintained a decent speed till Gede. After crossing the Bangladesh border, the train's speed reduced drastically, and it took us more time to reach our destination. The luggage checking in two separate spots was extremely stressful."

Click on NEXT for more...


Image: Jolly Saha
Photographs: Abdullah Apu

Prev     Next

India has BIG PLANS for the Friendship Express

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

While most passengers on board the train were tourists, a significant number of Bangladeshi passengers were returning from India after receiving medical treatment there. Medical facilities and services in India are cheaper and more dependable than those available in Bangladesh.

A few ambulances were already waiting outside the Cantonment station to carry such passengers off either to their homes or to hospitals in Dhaka.

Before the train reached the station, the on-duty station master told rediff.com, "The train has been attracting more passengers than it initially did after being inaugurated in April 2008."

He claimed that the trains leave India on time and reach the Dhaka Cantonment Station without "too much delay".

Click on NEXT for more...


Image: Passengers after disembarking from the Maitree Express
Photographs: Abdullah Apu

Prev     Next

India has BIG PLANS for the Friendship Express

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

The total duration of the train ride from Kolkata to Dhaka is over 10 hours.

"The immigration and luggage checking in two spots of Gede and Darsana adds another three-and-a-half hours to this lengthy journey. If the authorities of the two countries can work out a procedure that will reduce the time, the Express is likely to travel with full capacity," he hoped.

The two governments are actually working on such a solution. The governments of India and Bangladesh have constituted an Empowered Joint Group to suggest "measures to ease travel by Maitree Express, the direct passenger carrying train between Dhaka-Kolkata-Dhaka," according to a press release.

Click on NEXT for more...


Image: The Maitree Express at Dhaka Cantonment Station
Photographs: Abdullah Apu

Prev     Next

India has BIG PLANS for the Friendship Express

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

The release mentioned that the EJG held its first meeting in Rail Bhavan, New Delhi on May 9 where the Indian side of the delegation was led by D P Pande, additional member (Traffic), Railway Board while the Bangladesh delegation was led by Mohammad Shahjahan, additional director general (Operations), Bangladesh Railways.

Agreeing that the Maitree Express is a "symbol of people to people connectivity and the deep abiding friendship between the two countries", in a process to make this bi-weekly train more popular, both sides decided that they would "formulate certain short-term, medium-term and long-term measures to ease the travel by this train".

It was decided in the meeting that "immigration forms of both the countries would be distributed inside the train so that the time taken at the border stations could be reduced. Possibilities of introducing airlines type baggage booking would be explored by a working group of field officers. It was also agreed that the passenger amenities at the two border stations like Gede (India) and Darsana (Bangladesh) would be improved."

The release further read that the EJG decided that "efforts would be made to reduce the running time in both countries".

Click on NEXT for more...


Image: Himel
Photographs: Abdullah Apu

Prev     Next

India has BIG PLANS for the Friendship Express

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

The Maitree Express leaves from Dhaka Cantonment Station at 8:10 am for Kolkata on every Wednesday and Friday while it leaves from Kolkata for the Dhaka Cantonment Station at 7:10 am on Tuesday and Saturday of every week.

An 11.5-km railway link between Agartala, India and Akhaura of Bangladesh is also being considered for rail transit between the two sides. Bangladesh's Communications Minister Obaidul Quader said on May 10, that a memorandum of understanding for the installation of the Akhaura-Agartala railway line will be signed shortly between the two countries. The minister said this to reporters following a meeting with acting Indian High Commissioner Sanjay Bhattacharya at his ministry.

The New Nation daily in Bangladesh reported recently that the railway link is aimed at connecting Tripura with West Bengal through Bangladesh, thus reducing the time taken to travel between Tripura and West Bengal.

The distance between Agartala and Kolkata through Assam is about 1,200 km at present. If the proposed rail link is established, this distance would be reduced to only 419 km.

Click on NEXT for more...


Image: Outside the Dhaka Cantonment Station
Photographs: Abdullah Apu

Prev     Next

TOP photo features of the week

Prev     More

Click on MORE to see another set of PHOTO features...



Tags: PHOTO , MORE , TOP

Prev     More