India, Bangladesh set to revive Haldibari-Chilahati rail route after 55 years


The rail route between Haldibari in West Bengal and Chilahati in neighbouring Bangladesh is all set to re-open after a gap of 55 years with Prime ministers of the two countries virtually inaugurating the link over an E-summit.

PM Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina inaugurated this route during an e-summit yesterday.

The railway line from Haldibari in West Bengal and Chilahati in Bangladesh has been defunct after rail links between India and Bangladesh, which was then East Pakistan, were cut off in 1965.

This development comes after efforts by both the countries to boost rail connectivity by developing some key rail projects and reviving the old ones.

The services are expected to resume March 26 onwards which is also Bangladesh’s independence day.

Railway link will provide the much needed access to Delhi to the North eastern parts of the country.

For further enhancing rail connectivity, the two countries decided to revive and operationalise the six pre-1965 rail links between the two sides.

In the initial stage, however, the Haldibari to Chilahati rail service could be restricted to cargo service only.

At present, the two countries have one transporter passenger train service- the Maitree express, which connects Kolkata with Dhaka.

The Haldibari- Chilahati rail link was part of the Broad Gauge main route from Kolkata to Siliguri. Due to the war of 1965, however, all railway links were snapped off.

And now, to revive the erstwhile rail link, and connecting people of the two countries, the rail link has been restored.

Apart from enhancing rail network accessibility , the rail link will boost bilateral trade and economic development of the region.

Railway connectivity has been a major focus area for the two countries, and a lot of progress has been made in recent months. As reported earlier, during the COVID-19 related global lockdown, the two countries facilitated the operationalisation of container and parcel train services in July 2020.

Apart from this, The Karimganj – Mahisashan rail link which is on the Assam side is expected to be operational by 2022. And, the new rail link between Akhaura (Bangladesh) and Agartala which is being financed under grant assistance from India, is likely to be operational by end 2021.

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