Vol. 5 Num 1104 Mon. July 09, 2007  
Front Page

Dhaka-Kolkata Service
First train arrives on trial run

A passenger train from India reached Dhaka yesterday afternoon on its trial run resuming the long-awaited train service between the two neighbouring countries that remained stopped for 42 years.

The train 'Maitree' with seven coaches reached the Dhaka Cantonment Railway Station at 6:17pm carrying a delegation of 30 Indian officials.

It is also the first-ever direct train in the independent Bangladesh from India as the train service between the two countries was snapped in 1965 during the India-Pakistan war.

Shafiq Alam Mehdi, joint secretary of communications ministry and Belayet Hossain, director of Bangladesh Railway among other high officials, received the delegation.

The Indian delegation would sit with their counterpart in several meetings for two days starting from today to fix some unresolved issues regarding the train service.

Additional Secretary of Indian Home Ministry AE Ahmed leads the 12-member team accompanied by 18 other technical personnel. Two other officials from the Indian High Commission in Dhaka would join the team in the meetings.

A 13-member team led by Additional Secretary of Communications Ministry KM Ismail would represent the home team.

Both sides would try to resolve issues like train fares, immigrations and custom checking points.

According to a proposal, there will be three categories of fares of $8, $12 and $20. Bangladesh will keep 78 percent of the revenue while India will get the rest, as the distance between Sealdah and the Bangladesh border is 120 kilometres while the length of the rail track in Bangladesh territory is 418 kilometres.

A 10-coach train with a capacity of 760 passengers will commute between Dhaka and Sealdah every day. The train will start at 7:45am from Bangladesh and at 7:00am from India.

Bangladeshi crew will man the train up to the border and will return by the Dhaka-bound train from India. Likewise, Indian crew will accompany the passengers from India to the border and go back by the Sealdah-bound train from Dhaka.

The railway sources said that if immigration formalities are carried out at the stations, it would take eight hours to reach Kolkata from Dhaka. However, if the immigration checking is conducted at the border, then travelling time will take no less than 11 hours.

Our Correspondent from Kushtia reports: Dr Shawkat Sadi, assistant commissioner of Benapole customs, received the Indian delegation when it arrived at Darshana in Bangladesh territory at 11:07am yesterday.

Later, the Indian team and the local officials together inspected the arrangements for immigrations and customs at Darshana. The train left for Dhaka at 11:50am.

A large number of people from surrounding areas gathered near the Darshana border check post to welcome the Indian delegation. Tight security measures were taken to check any untoward incident.

Indian Additional Home Secretary AE Ahmed faces questions from journalists after he along with his delegation reached Dhaka Cantonment Railway Station yesterday onboard Maitree, a Dhaka-Kolkata train, on its dry run. PHOTO: STAR