After 56 years, India and Bangladesh resumed the operation of freight trains through the restored Haldibari-Chilahati route on Sunday that is envisaged to give significant impetus to railway connectivity between the two countries.
After both the country’s Prime Ministers had on on December 17, last year reopened the rail route , the Indian Railways ran its first freight train laden with stones from Damdim railway station under Northeast Frontier Railway’s jurisdiction for Bangladesh on Monday.
The railway station is located at Haldibari, about 12km away from Bangladesh’s Chilahati, and about 4.5 km from the international border, also known as ‘zero point’.
Indian Railways officials said that five links connecting India with Bangladesh have been made operational, including between Petrapole (India) and Benapole (Bangladesh), Gede (India) and Darshana (Bangladesh), Singhabad (India) and Rohanpur (Bangladesh), Radhikapur (India) and Birol (Bangladesh) apart from Haldibari and Chilahati.
The Haldibari-Chilahati rail link between India and Bangladesh (the then East Pakistan) was operational till 1965. 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 territory even after the Partition. However, the war of 1965 effectively cut off all the railway links between India and the then East Pakistan.
Around 20 freight trains are expected to travel to and fro through the rail link every month. The link is intended to improve freight and passenger connections between Bangladesh and Assam and West Bengal.