Kolkata, Apr 14 : A passenger train service between India and Bangladesh -- 'Moitree Express'-- which was suspended for over four decades, resumed its operations today. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee flagged off the 'Moitree Express' from here on the first day of the Bengali New Year.
Railway Minsiter Lalu Prasad Yadav, Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi and West Bengal Chief Minister Budhadev Bhattacharya were present on the occasion.
The train was stopped briefly on its tracks by a citizens group called 'Amra Bengal', which demanded the scrapping of the Indo-Bangladesh Friendship Treaty. The train resumed its historic journey within 10 minutes after police swung into action. The train, which can carry 370 passengers, will run between Dhaka Cantonment and Chitpur near Kolkata through the Darshana border once a week from both sides. A train each will leave Dhaka and Kolkata on Saturdays and the return journey will take place on Sundays. The train from Kolkata is expected to reach Dhaka at 7:00 p.m., while the train from Dhaka is expected in Kolkata at 9:00 p.m.
The fares will be between eight dollars and 20 dollars depending on classes for the 538-km journey, which include 418 km in Bangladesh and 120 km in India. A passenger train service between Dhaka and Kolkata was introduced towards the end of the Awami League Government in July 2001. One train had run on a trial basis, but the service was cancelled after the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led coalition came to power. The two cities are currently connected by air and bus services. The train is expected to cover a distance of 345 kilometres between Dhaka and Kolkata in 12 hours. The train service between India and Bangladesh was suspended during the 1965 war between India and Pakistan, when Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan, and was then referred to as East Pakistan.