Dhaka-Kolkata train may cut two hours from inspection time

April 30th, 2008 - 2:44 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, April 30 (IANS) Passengers travelling on Maitri Express - the Dhaka-Kolkata train - may spend two hours less if the authorities in Bangladesh and India agree to reduce the time consumed on customs and immigration formalities. Dhaka is awaiting a response on a proposal it has sent to New Delhi that aims to cut short the time, said a communications ministry official here Tuesday.

To adjust with the proposed schedule, Bangladesh has also proposed re-fixing the starting time of the Kolkata-bound train at 7.30 a.m. and that of the Dhaka-bound train at 8 a.m. (Bangladesh time).

For a journey of eight hours to cover 538 km - 418 in Bangladesh and 120 in India - nearly five hours are spent on formalities, prompting complaints from passengers.

The train service was resumed April 14, after 43 years.

The service was snapped after the India-Pakistan war in 1965, when Dhaka was the capital of then East Pakistan.

Officials of both countries have informally agreed on the proposal and it will be implemented immediately after receipt of India’s consent to it, unnamed sources told The Daily Star newspaper.

A train now leaves Dhaka for Kolkata every Saturday and returns Sunday, and another train leaves Kolkata every Saturday to go back Sunday.

Under another proposal, the train leaving Dhaka Saturday will return Tuesday.

“Since many passengers have business in Kolkata that take at least a couple of days, they now have to wait a week to catch the train for Dhaka. They won’t have to do so when the new proposal is implemented,” the official said.

The ministry has meanwhile asked immigration officials to report within seven days details about having a set-up at cantonment station here for both customs and immigration checking.

Under the present arrangement, the station is for boarding and customs checking of Kolkata-bound passengers who undergo immigration checking at Darsana.

Passengers from Kolkata will however have customs and immigration checking at Darsana as is done now.

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