Bangladesh, India flag off fifth rail route
India and Bangladesh yesterday began regular operation of freight trains through the Haldibari-Chilahati rail route 56 years after it had been suspended following the India-Pakistan war in 1965.
The service, which was inaugurated by the two countries' prime ministers during a virtual bilateral summit on December 17 last year, officially began yesterday with the Indian Railways dispatching stones from Dam Dim Station of Northeast Frontier Railway to Bangladesh.
This is the fifth rail route between the two countries after Petrapole-Benapole, Gede–Darshana, Singhabad-Rohanpur and Radhikapur–Birol.
The commodities that can be exported from India to Bangladesh through the rail route include stones and boulders, food grain, fresh fruits, chemical fertilisers, onion, chillies, garlic, ginger, fly ash, clay, lime, wood and timber etc. From Bangladesh, all exportable commodities can be sent.
Businesses see it as a very positive development as it will help reduce transport cost and time in the export-import business between the two neighbours.
In fiscal 2020-21, Bangladesh Railway transported 36.9 lakh tonnes of goods from India, which is more than double that from a year earlier. Subsequently, the railway's income from the cross-border trade hit a record Tk 167.7 crore, up 120 percent year-on-year.
The rail route can open a new horizon of regional trading: Bangladesh can export goods to Nepal through it, said Siddiqul Alam, executive member of Nilphamari Chamber of Commerce.
After the partition in 1947, seven rail links were operational between India and the then East Pakistan up to 1965. Bangladesh and India have committed to reviving all the pre-1965 railway links between the two countries.
The Haldibari-Chilahati rail link will strengthen India-Bangladesh rail connectivity and bilateral trade and enhance rail network access to the main ports and dry ports to support the growth in regional trade and to encourage economic and social development of the region, said the Indian High Commission in Dhaka.