India and Bangladesh restored regular operations of freight trains through the Haldibari-Chilahati rail route after 56 years on Sunday, in a step aimed at strengthening rail connectivity and bilateral trade between the two countries.
The Haldibari-Chilahati rail link was inaugurated in December 2020 during a virtual meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina to boost trade relations between the two nations.
This rail link is also set to provide northeast India with an opportunity to enter the international market.
The first goods train left Dumdim station of Alipurduar division on Sunday and will reach Chilahati station in Bangladesh via the Haldibari-Chilahati rail route.
It will also boost e rail network accessibility to the main ports and dry ports to support the growth in regional trade and to encourage economic and social development of the region.
The Haldibari-Chilahati rail link
The Haldibari-Chilahati rail link is the fifth rail link between the two countries that has been made operational.
Indian Railways dispatched the first freight train loaded with stones from Damdim station of Northeast Frontier Railway to Bangladesh.
After the partition in 1947, 7 rail links were operational between India and the then East Pakistan (up to 1965).
Presently, there are four operational rail links between Bangladesh and India.
These are: Petrapole (India) to Benapole (Bangladesh), Gede (India) to Darshana (Bangladesh), Singhabad (India) to Rohanpur (Bangladesh), and Radhikapur (India) to Birol (Bangladesh).
The leadership of both Bangladesh and India are committed to reviving all the pre-1965 railway links between the two countries.
Construction of the rail line from Haldibari station to the Bangladesh border began in 2016 and ended in 2017. Indian Railways restored the tracks at a cost of INR 82 crore.
The Haldibari-Chilahati rail route is expected to improve trade, social and economic ties between India and Bangladesh, and also benefit other South Asian countries such as Nepal and Bhutan.
The commodities that can be exported from India to Bangladesh through this rail route include stones and boulders, food grains, fresh fruits, chemical fertilizer, onions, chilies, garlic, ginger, fly ash, clay, limestone and wood.
From Bangladesh to India, all exportable commodities are permitted.