Gede: Providing the neighbouring country mobility solutions for both intra-country and inter-country movement, India on Monday handed over 10 broad-gauge diesel locomotives to Bangladesh.
The handover was flagged off in the presence of External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and his Bangladeshi counterpart AK Abdul Momen, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and his counterpart Md Nurul Islam Sujon, as well as Suresh Angadi, Minister of State for Railways via video conferencing.
The physical location of the handover was Gede station of the Eastern Railway in West Bengal’s Nadia district while the receiving station will be of Darshana on the other side.
Indo-Bangladesh rail collaboration is a vital element of bilateral cooperation in promoting trade and connectivity and in boosting the economic partnership. India and Bangladesh are jointly working to enhance rail connectivity by developing some crucial railway projects as well as by restoring some old rail links with Bangladesh.
At present, there are four operational rail links between India and Bangladesh connecting West Bengal with Bangladesh, including Petrapole (India)- Benapole (Bangladesh), Gede (India)- Darshana (Bangladesh), Singhabad (India)-Rohanpur (Bangladesh), Radhikapur (India)-Birol (Bangladesh).
Two passenger trains – Bandhan Express [Kolkata-Khulna] (2 days/week) and Maitree Express [Kolkata-Dhaka] (5 days/week) operate between the two countries. Their movement at the moment has been temporarily suspended due to COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 17 railway sector projects have been included in Line of Credit assistance extended by India to Bangladesh, with a commitment of USD 2.44 billion. India has offered all Line of Credit to Bangladesh at a rate of interest of 1 per cent per annum, repayment over 20 years with a moratorium for five years.
Of these 17 railway sector projects, nine have been successfully completed including the supply of BG/MG locomotives, flat wagons, railway bridges and signalling equipment, among others. Railway projects under implementation using LoC assistance include — Kulaura-Shahbazpur railway line at a cost of USD 78 million, likely to be completed by end of this year; Khulna-Mongla railway line project worth USD 389 million (along with the railway bridge) likely to be completed by June 2021.
Three other projects at various stages of implementation pertaining to double line track, a conversion of meter gauge line to dual gauge line and a new dual gauge rail line.
In addition, cross-border rail link of approximately 12 kilometers is being built under grant-in-aid between Agartala and Akhaura town on the Dhaka-Chittagong trunk line. This is likely to be completed by March 2021 and will further enhance freight and passenger connectivity between India and northeastern states.