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The Union Minister for Railways and Commerce & Industry, Piyush Goyal has said that governments of both India and Bangladesh were serious about recommencing the pre-1965 rail links between the two countries.
Goyal was speaking at a special ceremony to handover ten broad gauge (BG) locomotives to Bangladesh Railway. The locomotives were flagged off by Goyal and External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar on Monday through video conference.
“The leadership of both India and Bangladesh are committed to reviving the pre-1965 railway connection between the two countries. Out of the seven rail links that existed then, four are functional now. To further strengthen rail connectivity in the region, one new rail link, between Agartala in India and Akhaura in Bangladesh is being constructed and financed under grant assistance of India,” informed Goyal.
The handing over of these locomotives, under grant assistance from the Govt of India, fulfills an important commitment made during the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina to India, in October last year. In keeping with the requirements of Bangladesh Railway, the locomotives were suitably modified by Indian Railways. These will help handle the increasing volume of passenger and freight train operations in Bangladesh.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Jaishankar said, “I am glad to know that parcel and container trains have been started between both the countries. This will open up new opportunities for our businesses.”
Dr. Jaishankar further highlighted the depth of time-tested India-Bangladesh ties, based on mutual trust and respect. He expressed his happiness that the COVID-19 pandemic had not slowed down the pace of bilateral cooperation and conveyed that he looked forward to more such milestones during the birth centenary year of Bangladesh founder Sheikh Mujibur Rehman.
In recent times, India and Bangladesh have stepped up their rail cooperation to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as trade via land border faced disruptions. Rail as a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution has helped in transporting essential commodities across the international border. Both sides saw the highest ever exchange of freight trains in the month of June. A total of 103 freight trains were utilised for carrying essential commodities and raw materials.
Recently, parcel and container train services have also commenced between the two countries. This is expected to significantly enhance the scope of bilateral trade.
Minister of State for Railways, Suresh C Angadi, Minister of Railway, Govt. of Bangladesh, Mohammed Nurul Islam Sujon and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Govt. of Bangladesh, Dr. Abul Kalam Abdul Momen were also present on the occasion.