New Delhi, November 9: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina along with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee on Thursday jointly inaugurated a series of connectivity projects between the two countries including Bandhan Express between Kolkata and Khulna, second Bhairab and Titas Railway Bridges and the International Rail Passenger Terminus at Chitpur in Kolkata.
On this occasion, PM Modi said that the centuries-old historic bond between the people of India, especially from West Bengal and Bangladesh got a fresh boost. He further noted that these projects will provide a boost to Bangladesh's rail network and make it stronger and better. "It is a matter of immense pride for India to be a trustworthy partner of Bangladesh," PM Modi added.
Importantly, the Bandhan Express is the second cross-border train between India and Bangladesh. The Express train will re-establish the rail link between southwestern region of Bangladesh and West Bengal which was closed in the 1950s.
The inauguration of the Kolkata-Khulna direct train service is yet another step the two friendly neighbours are taking to direct their bilateral relationship towards excellence. Restoration of the direct rail link between Kolkata and Khulna is expected to further boost trade and people to people contacts between India and Bangladesh.
However, the Bandhan Express will start ferrying passengers from November 16 onwards. The train will run in either direction twice a week and cover the 177 km distance between Kolkata and khulna within 4 and half hours.
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had been at the railway station in Kolkata to flag off the first train. While External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval were also present on this occasion.