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Modi, Hasina launch new passenger train between India, Bangladesh

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
March 27, 2021 22:21 IST
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A new passenger train connecting Dhaka and New Jalpaiguri on the Indian side was inaugurated jointly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina via a video conference on Saturday.


IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi hands over the COVID-19 vaccine to Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, in Bangladesh. Photograph: Courtesy @MEAIndia/Twitter

This is the third passenger train after Maitree Express (Dhaka-Kolkata) and Bandhan Express (Khulna-Kolkata) running between the two neighbouring countries.

The new passenger train, 'Mitali Express', was jointly inaugurated by Modi and Hasina at 6.38 pm on Saturday from the Prime Minister's Office in Tejgaon here via a video conference, local vernacular news website reported.

The new inter-country passenger train was launched on the occasion of 'Bangabandhu' Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's birth centenary and golden jubilee of Bangladesh's Independence, it said.

The train will run between Dhaka Cantonment and New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal via Chilahati, a border railway station in Bangladesh.

The distance between Dhaka and Chilahati is 453 km and from Chilahati to New Jalpaiguri is 71 km.

Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujan, Director General of Railways Dhirendra Nath Majumder and other senior officials were present at the Dhaka Cantonment Station during the inauguration.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told reporters at a briefing that the service will start when normalcy is restored.

Both countries had suspended railway services after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.

The bi-weekly train has 10 coaches -- four AC cabins, four AC chairs and two power car brake vans. It is expected to give a boost to tourism in both the countries.

The train will run from New Jalpaiguri to Dhaka Cantonment on Sunday and Wednesday and Dhaka Cantonment to New Jalpaiguri on Monday and Thursday.

Last year, India and Bangladesh resumed operations on the Haldibari-Chilahati route for goods trains after a gap of over 55 years.

The four other rail links that connect the two countries are Petrapole-Benapole, Gede-Darshana, Singhabad-Rohanpur and Radhikapur-Birol.

Earlier, the two prime ministers discussed the progress achieved in areas like connectivity, energy, trade, health and developmental cooperation following which the two countries signed five MoUs covering a number of areas of bilateral cooperation.

Modi, who is visiting Bangladesh on his first trip to a foreign country since the outbreak of the coronavirus, held one-on-one talks with Hasina which was followed by delegation-level meeting which continued for over an hour.

IMAGE: Modi during a meeting with Hasina. Photograph: Press Information Bureau of India

'Relationship going from strength to strength! Prime Minister @narendramodi and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina discussed the progress achieved in areas of health, trade, connectivity, energy, developmental cooperation and many more,' Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted after the talks.

The two sides signed five Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) covering areas such as connectivity, commerce, information technology and sports.

In a humanitarian gesture, Prime Minister Modi handed over a representational key of 109 ambulances to his counterpart Hasina.

He also handed over a representational box to her as a symbol of India's gift of 1.2 million COVID vaccine doses to Bangladesh.

Hasina presented a gold and a silver coin released on the occasion of the birth centenary of her father and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to Modi.

She also handed over a silver coin released on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh's Independence.

The two leaders also jointly opened some projects virtually.

Modi's visit is taking place at a time Bangladesh is commemorating Mujib Borsho, the birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of the country's war of liberation.

The two countries are also celebrating 50 years of the establishment of diplomatic ties.

On Friday, Modi attended the celebrations of the golden jubilee of the country's independence, the birth centenary of 'Bangabandhu' in Dhaka.

The two prime ministers held a virtual summit on December 17 during which Modi said Bangladesh is a key pillar of New Delhi's 'Neighbourhood First' policy, while Hasina described India as a 'true friend' and asserted that both countries could play a significant role in the global and regional value chains by further integrating their economies as well as boosting connectivity.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2021 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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