Khulna-Kolkata railway service launched

Modi, Sheikh Hasina flag off new train service

Modi, Sheikh Hasina flag off new train service

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

The train has been named as "Bandhan Express" and it will operate on the 177-km-long Khulna-Kolkata route and the distance will be traversed within four-and-half hours.

These projects also include the second Bhairab and Titas railway bridges built at the cost of $100 million; and the International Rail Passenger Terminus at Chitpur in Kolkata.

Modi ended his speech on a note of thanks to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The inauguration of the Kolkata-Khulna direct train service is seen as a key step to further boost bilateral ties, trade and people to people contacts between India and Bangladesh.

He said development and connectivity are linked with each other and the ties between India and Bangladesh, particularly between West Bengal and Bangladesh, are decades old.

"We want to cooperate with India and other countries in the immediate neighbourhood for creating an area of peace in South Asia", she said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to speak in Bengali.

Hasina said as friendly nations there has been an excellent relationship between the two countries and continuation of such relationship is very essential, the Daily Star reported.

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He said India was proud to be a reliable partner in Bangladesh's development. "Bangladesh-India relations are in fact setting new high standards of bilateral cooperation in the region and beyond", she added.

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.

Under an agreement with Bangladesh government, India's Ircon-Afcons JV constructed the bridge having both dual gauge and broad- gauge facilities.

PM Hasina also invited them to visit Bangladesh.

Bangladesh and India are working to re-open pre-1965 rail links for freight transport, Hasina added.

"The relations between the two countries will strengthen in the future", she said.

The Bandhan Express will start ferrying passengers from November 16 onwards. It will start from Kolkata at 6:00am and reach Khulna at 1:00pm.

The bridge over the Titas was built by Indian company Gammon-Flcl Consortium.

"The rail network, which has been constructed with nearly $100 million, will enhance connectivity in a big way between India and Bangladesh".

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