Modi, Hasina, Mamata flag-off India-Bangladesh friendship train 'Bandhan Express'

Modi, Sheikh Hasina flag off new train service

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina, today, jointly flagged off the Khulna-Kolkata train service and opened two bridges on railway routes connecting Dhaka with Sylhet and Chittagong.

Travelling between Kolkata and Khulna, the third largest city in Bangladesh, the fully air-conditioned passenger train will run every Thursday from both Kolkata and Khulna.

Rail bridges over river Titas and Bhairabh in Bangladesh were also launched.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee joined the inauguration through videoconferencing from West Bengal.

"There should be enhanced people to people connectivity", he said.

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 to 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 where we can live as good neighbours and pursue constructive policies for our peoples benefit", she said.

Prime Minister also said, "protocol" should not come between two neighbouring sides.

"These new modes of connectivity are adding diverse dimensions to our overall connectivity architecture.I am happy to note that we have recently extended our connectivity to the space too", she said.

Hasina said there has been an excellent relationship between Bangladesh and India and continuation of such ties is very much essential.

This is the second train service launched between the two countries after the introduction of Maitree Express between Kolkata and Dhaka in 2008.

She said today is yet another happy occasion in Bangladesh-India relations.

India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during her visit to Bangladesh in October also stressed to increase the connectivity. "I hope this fine display of mutuality of our relationship will further strengthen our bilateral relations", she added.

"Whenever we talk of connectivity, I am always reminded of the vision to revive the pre-1965 connectivity".

The new Titas Bridge is 218.7m in length and is 7m wide, built at a cost of 1.61bn taka by another Indian company, Gannon-Flcl Consortium, under a similar agreement with the government. This is expected to reduce travel time between Dhaka and Kolkata by almost three hours. It would reach Khulna in Bangladesh at about 12 noon, IST.

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