Dhaka, Apr 9: Bangladesh and India are planning to start the Dhaka-Kolkata train service from April 14 under a three-year agreement. The agreement is likely to be signed this week and can be scrapped by either side at three months' notice. The train called the Moitree Express will run between the Cantonment station in Dhaka and the Chitpur station in Kolkata through Darshana border on Bangladesh's western side.
A train will leave Dhaka for Kolkata at 8:30 a.m. every Saturday and travel back to Dhaka on Sunday. The train from Dhaka will have a capacity of 418 passengers while the one from Kolkata will have 366 seats. Fare for economy class has been fixed at eight dollars, for air-conditioned berth at 12 dollars, and 20 dollars for a sleeping berth. The journey will be for 13-14 hours including at least five hours for customs and immigration formalities at Darshana in Bangladesh and Gede in West Bengal, Karim said.
After baggage check at Dhaka railway station, the outgoing passengers will undergo immigration checks at Darshana. There will be security equipment including metal detectors, security archways and luggage scanners at the Darshana immigration check post, he said. The Railway Police and intelligence agencies will ensure security of the railway tracks, he added. Bangladesh is yet to construct security fencing on its side at Darshana railway station, said Home Secretary Abdul Karim.
An official said, "We don't have preparations for setting up of a metal cage at Darshana now though preparations were on to put necessary infrastructure there." India fears intrusion of men and goods on the train if the metal cage is not in place at the border stations on each side. The last train moved between Dhaka, then capital of East Pakistan, and Kolkata in 1965. The service was snapped after India and Pakistan fought a war in September that year.
The two sides decided to resume the service after prolonged discussions, signing a pact in 2001. The council of advisers to the caretaker government here approved the final draft of the deal at its meeting on Sunday.