India-Bangladesh passenger train service from April 14

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New Delhi, Apr 11 (UNI) After a gap of 43 years, passenger train service between Bangladesh and India will resume on April 14 with the Union Cabinet today approving the proposal for entering into an agreement between the two countries in this regard.

''The Dhaka-Kolkata passenger train service will start operation on April 14, the Bengali New Year's Day,'' Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said, briefing reporters on the Cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in chair.

Mr Sibal said the agreement would facilitate passenger train operations between India and Bangladesh and also provide an alternative mode of passenger transport between the two countries.

''This will strengthen bilateral relations,'' he added.

The Bangladesh Council of Advisers has already approved the draft of passenger train service.

The ''Moitree (friendship) Express'' will travel between the Cantonment station in Dhaka and the Chitpur station in Kolkata through Darshana border.

The two trains will simultaneously leave Dhaka and Kolkata every Saturday and return on Sunday.

The train from Dhaka will have a capacity of 418 passengers and that from Kolkata 366 seats. The 538 km journey -- 418 km in Bangladesh and 120 km in India -- will take 13 to 14 hours.

On April 3, rail officials of the two countries had concluded their two-day discussions on the resumption of passenger train service in Dhaka and related matters like immigration and customs.

The meeting decided the train fares as 20 dollars for the first class (AC) and 10 dollars for economy class.

The train service was stopped during the India-Pakistan war in 1965 when Bangladesh (East Pakistan) was part of Pakistan.

With the resumption of the train service, the two countries would have all modes of communications-- air, bus and train services.

UNI SKS SP GC1440

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