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Khulna-Kolkata train services launched
10 November 2017, 12:58 | Terri Saunders
PM Modi flags off Kolkata-Khulna Bandhan Express with Sheikh Hasina, Mamata
Taking their close ties and connectivity links further, India and Bangladesh on Thursday opened a new rail line between Kolkata and Khulna with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee jointly flagging-off the "Bandhan Express" via video-conferencing.
Modi and Hasina also inaugurated the rail bridge built on Bhairab and Titas rivers of Bangladesh with financial assistance from India.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, PM's Economic Affairs Adviser Dr Moshiur Rahman, PM's Political Affairs Adviser HT Imam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Indian High Commissioner (Ambassador) to Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla, and secretaries concerned were present at Ganobhaban.
The Indian premier also conveyed best wishes to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her speedy recovery on behalf of the people of India.
With the inauguration of these services, a new door of relationship has been opened up between the two countries, she said, adding that the relationship would be further strengthened in future.
Modi said the relations between the leaders of the neighbouring countries should be like the true meaning of the word "neighbour" and they should speak to each other and visit each other whenever they feel like and no protocol should come in the way.
He said the most important aspect of connectivity is "people to people connectivity".
She also invited Hasina over to Bengal.
"We want to cooperate with India and other countries in the immediate neighbourhood for creating an area of peace in South Asia", she said. "I'm sure these connectivity initiatives will further consolidate this vision".
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Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee described the launch of the projects as a remarkable day for India and Bangladesh.
The Bandhan Express will start ferrying passengers from November 16 onwards.
"I'm also confident that these services would give a boost to cultural exchanges and tourism between our two peoples". Bandhan express will strengthen the relationship. "I look forward to working with you in our joint endeavour to that end".
Bandhan Express will be a weekly train leaving from Kolkata every Thursday at 7.10 am. It will cover a distance of 177km in four and half hours. It would reach Khulna in Bangladesh at about 12 noon, IST.
It will be the first service on the route in 52 years.
Hasina assured that all the services between India and Bangladesh which existed prior to 1965, along this route, would be started again. The train will have 156 seats.
An global rail passenger terminus was also inaugurated at the Kolkata station with proper infrastructure and facilities for end-to-end immigration. It will not only help them in customs and immigration but also save three hours of their travel time.
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.
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