Three-year pact for Dhaka-Kolkata train

April 9th, 2008 - 4:13 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, April 9 (IANS) Reviving a communication link snapped more than 40 years ago, Bangladesh and India will resume the Dhaka-Kolkata train service under a three year agreement to be signed shortly before the trains start chugging on April 14. According to details announced here, the agreement, likely to be signed this week, can be scrapped by either side at three months’ notice.

Meanwhile, despite Indian insistence, Bangladesh is yet to construct security fencing on its side at Darshana railway station, The Daily Star newspaper said Wednesday quoting Home Secretary Abdul Karim.

Asked about setting up of a metal cage at Darshana, as is being done by the Indian authorities on their side at Gede, the official said: “We don’t have preparations for it now”.

However, preparations were on to put in place necessary infrastructure at Darshana, he added.

India fears intrusion of men and goods on the train if the metal cage is not in place at the border stations on each side.

The last train moved between Dhaka, then capital of East Pakistan, and Kolkata in 1965. The service was snapped after India and Pakistan fought a war in September that year.

The two sides decided to resume the service after prolonged discussions, signing a pact in 2001. However, that pact lapsed.

The date now fixed after an April 3 agreement is April 14, which is ‘Poila Baishakh’, the Bengali New Year’s Day.

The council of advisers to the caretaker government here approved the final draft of the deal at its meeting Sunday.

Called the “Moitree (friendship) Express”, the train will run between the Cantonment station in Dhaka and the Chitpur station in Kolkata through Darshana border on Bangladesh’s western flank.

A train will leave Dhaka for Kolkata at 8:30 a.m. every Saturday and travel back to Dhaka on Sunday.

Meanwhile, another train will leave Kolkata at 7:10 a.m. every Saturday and return on Sunday.

The train from Dhaka will have a capacity of 418 passengers while the one from Kolkata will have 366 seats.

Fare for economy class has been fixed at $8, for air-conditioned berth at $12, and $20 for a sleeping berth. The tickets here can be bought only at Kamalpur Railway Station.

The journey will 13-14 hours including at least five hours for customs and immigration formalities at Darshana in Bangladesh and Gede in West Bengal, Karim said.

After baggage check at Dhaka railway station, the outgoing passengers will undergo immigration checks at Darshana.

There will be security equipment including metal detectors, security archways and luggage scanners at the Darshana immigration check post, he said.

The Special Branch of Police, being tasked with immigration checking, will set up eight immigration counters at the check post.

Initially, civil aviation officials will assist the customs at Darshana.

The Railway Police and intelligence agencies will ensure security of the railway tracks, The Daily Star newspaper said.

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