Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina on Thursday launched the fifth rail link connecting both nations during a virtual bilateral summit.
The 10.5 km long rail link connecting Haldibari in West Bengal to Chilahati in Bangladesh is expected to further strengthen people to people contact and boost trade between the two neighbours.
A goods train was flagged off by Bangladesh’s railway minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan from Chilahati and it entered the Indian side after crossing the international border, said a release issued by Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).
At present there are four other operational rail links between both countries. They are, Petrapole (India)-Benapole (Bangladesh), Gede (India)-Darshana (Bangladesh), Singhabad (India)-Rohanpur (Bangladesh) and Radhikapur (India)-Birol (Bangladesh).
The rail link, 3.5 km of which is on the Indian side and the rest in Bangaldesh, was operational till 1965 and was part of the broad-gauge rail route from Kolkata to Siliguri during partition. But the link got disconnected in 1965 after the war with Pakistan.
Reopening of the train link is part of the joint declaration in the inter-government railway meeting between both countries at New Delhi in 2015.
Indian Railways restored the broad-gauge link from Haldibari till the international border at a cost of Rs 82.72 crore while the Bangaldesh railways upgraded the section from Chilahati to the border.
“The newly opened rail link will enhance rail network accessibility to the main ports, dry ports and land borders to support growth in regional trade and to encourage economic and social development of the region,” the NFR release said.