On spot immigration, customs clearance for India-Bangladesh train passengers

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina on Thursday launched a new train Bandhan Express between Kolkata in West Bengal and Khulna in the neighbouring country.

Through video conference, Modi and Hasina flagged off the inaugural run from New Delhi and Dhaka respectively. They also inaugurated the International Rail Passenger Terminus at Chitpur in Kolkata and launched end-to-end immigration and customs services for the Maitree Express, launched in April 2008 to re-establish pre-partition era rail link between Kolkata and Dhaka.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also participated in the remote launch. In Delhi, Modi was joined by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, while Hasina was joined by Bangladesh Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam in Dhaka.

Modi pats Hasina

"Whenever we talk about connectivity, I always remember your vision to restore India-Bangladesh rail links that existed before 1965," Modi told Hasina. "I am happy to note that we are making progress 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 opened the rail bridges 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 Passenger Terminus at Chitpur enable Indian passengers traveling to Dhaka or Khulna by Maitree Express or 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 clearsance on their arrival in Kolkata.

Until now, Maitree Express stopped at two places Gede in India and Darshana in Bangladesh so that the passengers could get immigration and customs clearance.

Travel time cut

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 the new initiatives would boost cultural exchange and bring people of the two nations closer.

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