Thousands queue up for train tickets to Dhaka

April 11th, 2008 - 3:13 pm ICT by admin  

Kolkata, April 11 (IANS) Thousands of people queued up here Friday as ticket sales began for the India-Bangladesh Moitree (friendship) Express that will resume services after 43 years on Bengali New Year’s Day Monday. “Tickets are available at Eastern Railway ticket-booking counter in Fairly Place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Friday onwards. People will get tickets on showing their passport and visa. Fares are kept at $8 and $20. Initially it was decided passengers would get tickets in exchange of dollars only. But now they can also buy tickets in rupees,” Sameer Goswami, Eastern Railway spokesperson, told IANS.

“The excitement of people can be estimated by the fact that they are standing in line for tickets since 5 a.m. There are already 3,000-4,000 people in the queue,” he said.

The train, which will start on Poila Boishakh (Bengali New Year’s Day), will run every weekend between Chitpur Station in Kolkata and Cantonment Station in Dhaka through the Darshana border.

“It’s an eight-hour journey that starts on Poila Boishakh, redefining the friendship of the two countries. But the verification of passport, visa and other official paper works will take six hours more,” said Mahbubur Rehman, a senior official of the Bangladesh communication ministry.

“We have requested the Indian High Commission to keep the verification procedure short yet fool proof so that passengers will not feel harassed,” he added.

“Keeping in mind terrorist activities that always come between India-Bangladesh friendship, we are stressing most on security. The train will not stop within 30 km of the border even if the chain is pulled,” Rehman said.

Rehman and Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty had Wednesday signed the supplementary deal on the commissioning of the cross-border passenger train.

The 538-km journey will cover 418 km in Bangladesh and 120 km in India. The train from Dhaka will have a capacity of 418 passengers while that from Kolkata will accommodate 366.

The train service between the two countries was stopped during the India-Pakistan war in 1965 when Bangladesh was the erstwhile East Pakistan. It gained independence in 1971.

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