India, Bangladesh launch cross-border passenger train service
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed his aptitude in Bangla language again when he congratulated his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in their native language during the launch of the Khulna-Kolkata direct train service on Thursday.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee joined the programme through videoconference.
Modi added that the most important focus should be on the connectivity among people.
Hasina said, "The train service is a dream come true for people on both sides of the border".
"We're ready to cooperate with India and other countries in the immediate neighbourhood for creating a "peace area" in South Asia where we can live together", she said.
"I am happy to note that we are making progresses in that direction step by step".
Hasina said as friendly nations there has been an excellent relationship between the two countries and continuation of such relationship is very essential, the Daily Star reported.
The Bandhan Express, meaning a train of bond, is the second cross-border passenger rail service between the two neighbouring countries, the first being Moitree Express that runs between Bangladesh capital Dhaka and Kolkata.
He said India was proud to be a reliable partner in Bangladesh's development.
New bus and train services had been announced during Hasina's visit to India in April.
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PM Hasina also invited them to visit Bangladesh.
"I hope this fine display of mutuality of our relationship will further strengthen our bilateral relations".
Modi was joined by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi, while Hasina was joined by Bangladesh Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam in Dhaka.
"Bangladesh is one of India's best friend in the world. Our two countries are also working to re-open our pre-1965 rail links for cargo transport between Bangladesh and India".
The bridge over the Titas was built by Indian company Gammon-Flcl Consortium.
The Bandhan Express will start ferrying passengers from November 16 onwards.
The 1 km long Bhairab railway bridge was built over Meghna at a cost of around $ 75 million by Indian contractors and consultants, while the Titas bridge in eastern Bangladesh was built at a cost of around $ 25 million.
Dhaka - Bangladesh and India have restored a railway connection more than five decades after it was suspended because of a war.
The Bandhan Express is scheduled to ply the route every Thursday. It would reach Khulna in Bangladesh at about 12 noon, IST.
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