Prime Minister Narendra Modi and her Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina on Thursday jointly launched a new train - Bandhan Express - between Kolkata in West Bengal and Khulna in the neighbouring country.
Modi and Hasina had a video conference from New Delhi and Dhaka, respectively to jointly flag off the inaugural run of the Bandhan Express. They also inaugurated the international rail passenger terminus at Chitpur in Kolkata and launched an end-to-end immigration and customs services for the Maitree Express, which was launched in April 2008 to re-establish the pre-Partition era rail link between Kolkata and Dhaka.
The prime ministers of the two nations were also joined by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Modi was joined by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi, while Hasina was joined by Bangladesh Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam in Dhaka.
"Whenever we talk about connectivity, I always remember your vision to restore India-Bangladesh rail links that existed before 1965," Modi told Hasina during the video conference.
"I am happy to note that we are making progresses in that direction step by step. The people-to-people link is the important aspect of connectivity between two nations," added the prime minister.
Modi and Hasina also inaugurated the rail bridge built on Bhairab and Titas rivers of Bangladesh with financial assistance from India. The bridges will improve rail connectivity between Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh.
The international rail Ppassenger terminus at Chitpur in Kolkata will make it possible for Indian passengers traveling to Dhaka or Khulna in Bangladesh by Maitree Express or the newly launched Bandhan Express to get immigration clearance before boarding the trains.
Bangladeshi passengers coming from Khulna and Dhaka to India by the two trains will also be able to get immigration and customs clearance on their arrival in Kolkata.
The newly introduced end-to-end immigration and custom clearance services for Maitree Express passengers in Kolkata and Dhaka will bring down the travel time between the two cities by three hours.
Hasina said that newly launched Bandhan Express and the end-to-end customs and immigration services for passengers traveling on the trains between the two countries would boost cultural exchanges between India and Bangladesh and bring people of the two nations closer.