Haldibari-Chilahati route revival: 1st train to leave India for Bangladesh at midnight
The first goods train through the revived Haldibari (West Bengal) - Chilahati (Bangladesh) rail link is set to leave Damdim station of Alipurduar shortly after midnight on August 1, carrying stone chips, in a move aimed at promoting South Asian sub-regional trade.
Subhanan Chanda, chief PRO of North Frontier Railway, headquartered in New Jalpaiguri of West Bengal, said the goods train is expected to leave Damdim at around 0100 hours Indian time and reach Chilahati after a five-six hour long journey.
The customs and immigrations would be done at Chilahati which would take around two to three hours, he told our New Delhi correspondent over phone.
Haldibari-Chilahati route will ensure less time for transit of goods to Bangladesh from Assam, West Bengal, Nepal and Bhutan, Subhanan Chanda added.
The Haldibari-Chilahati rail link between India and the then East Pakistan had been operational till 1965 when the India-Pakistan war snapped it. This was part of the broad-gauge main route from Kolkata to Siliguri during the partition. Trains travelling to Assam and North Bengal continued to travel through the then East Pakistan territory even after partition.
In pursuance of the joint declaration in the Inter-Governmental Railway Meeting (IGRM) held in New Delhi in May, 2015, the Indian Railway Board sanctioned funds for the construction of a new broad-gauge line from Haldibari station in India to Bangladesh border for connecting with Chilahati in Bangladesh in 2016-17, in order to reopen the rail link.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina had remotely inaugurated the Haldibari-Chilahati rail link on December 17 last year during their virtual bilateral summit.
However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, regular train services could not be started in the section since then.