(MENAFN- Colombo Gazette)
India on Tuesday handed over 20 broad gauge (BG) locomotives to Bangladesh, fulfilling a commitment made to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during her visit here in October 2019.
The handing over ceremony was attended by Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishaw and his Bangladeshi counterpart Md Nurul Islam Sujan virtually.
“India's relationship with Bangladesh is civilisational, cultural, social and economic. The prime ministers of both the countries are playing proactive roles to improve the bilateral relationship across social, economic and political sectors. Indian Railways are also playing a vital role in improving and strengthening rail connectivity across the border and improving trade between the two countries,” Vaishnaw said.
“As of now, five BG connectivities are operational, namely Geda-Darsana, Benapol-Petrapol, Singhabad-Rohanpur, Radhikapur-Birol and Haldibari-Chilahati. Work on two more cross-border rail connectivities, Akhaura-Agartala and Mahishasan-Shahbazpur, are progressing well and are likely to be completed and commissioned shortly,” he said.
In keeping with the requirements of Bangladesh Railway, the locomotives have been suitably modified. These locomotives will help to handle the increasing volume of passenger and freight train operations in the country.
“I express my gratitude to the Indian government for the support. Previously, in June 2020, the Indian government provided 10 locomotives to Bangladesh as grant. We express our heartfelt gratitude to India for providing broad gauge locomotives,” Sujan said.
“The supply of the locomotives will help to improve both goods and passenger trains. We hope that the existing collaboration between the two countries in the railways sector will increase day by day,” he added.
To enhance people-to-people contact, there are three pairs of passenger trains running between India and Bangladesh at present – the Kolkata-Dhaka Maitree Express, Kolkata-Khulna Bandhan Express and the New Jalpaiguri-Dhaka Mitali Express.
Trade between the two countries via rail has seen consistent growth with interchange of close to 100 cargo trains per month. Approximately 2.66 MT cargo was sent to Bangladesh in the last financial year, the ministry said.
The export commodities are stone, DOC, foodgrains, China clay, gypsum, maize, onion and other essential items, as and when required, from India.
The ministry said since 2020, permission has been given to operate parcel container and NMG rakes which normally carry agricultural products, fabrics, finished goods, light commercial vehicles and tractors. A new traffic of geo-synthetic bags has just started and three parcel trains have been sent from Gujarat.
It added that in line with India's commitment to improve railway services in Bangladesh, 10 BG diesel locomotives were handed over to the country on grant basis in July 2020. As reported by Bangladesh, these locomotives are performing well and contributing well in smooth movement rail traffic in Bangladesh. PTI