Khulna-Kolkata train services launched

PM to jointly launch cross-border train service with Bangladeshi premier

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee were also present for the flagging off ceremony, which was done via video conferencing.

Travelling between Kolkata and Khulna, the third largest city in Bangladesh, the fully air-conditioned passenger train will run every Thursday from both Kolkata and Khulna. Modi, Hasina and Banerjee also inaugurated two bridges over river Meghna and river Titas in Bangladesh.

The resumption of the train connection was among the 22 agreements Bangladesh and Indian signed in April this year to improve people-to people contact between the two next-door neighbours.

After a gap of more than five decades, India and Bangladesh resumed train service between Kolkata and Khulna on Thursday.

"We want to cooperate with India and other countries in the immediate neighbourhood for creating an area of peace in South Asia where we can live as good neighbours and pursue constructive policies for our peoples benefit", she said.

"These new modes of connectivity are adding diverse dimensions to our overall connectivity architecture.I am happy to note that we have recently extended our connectivity to the space too", she said.

"I firmly believe that neighbouring countries should act more like neighbours".

The two Prime Ministers - Mr Modi and Ms Hasina - also inaugurated simplified end-to-end immigration and custom clearance services of the Moitree Express which has been running between Dhaka and Kolkata.

She said today is yet another happy occasion in Bangladesh-India relations.

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Prime Minister Hasina said Bangladesh-India had set new high standards of bilateral cooperation which was essential for regional development.

PM Hasina also invited them to visit Bangladesh.

"Whenever we talk about connectivity, I always remember your vision to restore India-Bangladesh rail links that existed before 1965", Modi told Hasina during the video conference.

India and Bangladesh would touch a "new sky" of development and prosperity as the bilateral ties are being taken forward and people-to-people relations are further strengthened, he added.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj joined in from New Delhi, and her Bangladesh counterpart A.H. Mahmood Ali from Dhaka.

The Bandhan Express will start ferrying passengers from November 16 onwards.

The bridge over the Titas was built by Indian company Gammon-Flcl Consortium. Bandhan express will strengthen the relationship.

The 982.20m long and 7m width Bhairab Railway Bridge was built at a cost of 5.67bn taka, with construction beginning in 2013.

The train, according to the schedule, would leave Kolkata at 11 a.m. (India time) and reach Khulna in four and half hours.

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