KOLKATA: After the successful run of Dhaka-Kolkata Maitree Express, a new passenger train linking West Bengal capital Kolkata with Khulna in southwestern Bangladesh was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee through a video conference on Thursday.
The fully air-conditioned ‘Bandhan Express’ – ‘Bandhan’ means ‘bond’ in English – will cover the 172 km distance between Kolkata and Khulna within four and half hours.
A train service existed between Kolkata and Khulna until the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war. The commercial service to the new Bandhan Express will begin on November 16. The train will depart from Kolkata station every Thursday.
Alongside the launch of the train, the PM inaugurated two railway bridges built by India over Titas and Bhairab rivers in Bangladesh at an expenditure of Rs 650 crore.
After the inauguration, Modi said that the train service will bolster the links between West Bengal and Bangladesh and deeper bonds will ensure the mutual development of the two countries.
“Aaj ei shubho upolokkhe dui desh bashider amar abhinandan janai. Aaj amader moitreyee, bondhon aaro sudriro holo (I congratulate the people of the two countries on this auspicious occasion. Our friendship got more strengthened today),” he said in Bengali. He also said that the new railway bridges will enhance the railway connectivity of Bangladesh.
Mamata Banerjee and Sheikh Hasina expressed hopes that Bandhan Express will strengthen the ties between the two Bengals.
“This train is a dream come true to the people of the two countries,” Hasina said.
On the other hand, Banerjee said, “The relations between India and Bangladesh that were strengthened during the 1971 Liberation war went a step further today with the revival of the Kolkata-Khulna train link.”