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Dhaka-Kolkata trains deal finalised for Apr 14 launch PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 03 April 2008

Dhaka, April 2 (bdnews24.com) - Bangladeshi and Indian negotiators at a meeting in Dhaka Wednesday finalised the agreement to launch Dhaka-Kolkata passenger trains from April 14, the Bengali New Year, an official said.

Chief of Bangladesh delegation ATKM Ismail told the media that all formalities including signing of the agreement will be complete by the April 14 deadline.

"If the government of India and Bangladesh sign the agreement before April 14 , the legal barriers for launching the passenger train service will go. "We are hopeful that the train service will start from April 14," Ismail told newsmen after a meeting of the Inter-Governmental Railway Meeting (IGRM) at the Rail Bhaban.

The IGRM takes place every six months. The officials of Bangladesh and the Indian railways met to finalise the draft agreement on starting the 'Moitree Express' and other rail operation issues. RN Verma, an additional member of the Indian Railway Board, led the Indian side at the talks.

The agreement would be signed by the two governments at the right time through the foreign ministries, said Ismail, who is an additional secretary at the communications ministry. "We are confident of completing the formalities (by the timeframe of April 14). That is why we are here," Verma told reporters. Ismail told bdnews24.com that provision for fencing at the zero line would only be applicable for the Moitree Express.

Both Ismail and Verma said the Indian proposal for starting rail link between Akhaura in Bangladesh and Agartala in India was not on the meeting agenda. The meeting decided that two trains would operate on Saturday and Sunday every week. "On Saturday, a train from Dhaka will start for Kolkata at 8am while another train will start from Kolkata for Dhaka at 7am. "The next day the train that would reach Kolkata the previous day will start for Dhaka at 7am.

Similarly, the train having reached Dhaka will start at 8am for Kolkata," Kazi Asad Ullah, additional director general (operations) of Bangladesh railway, told bdnews24.com after the meeting. He said a one-way train trip would take 14 hours. The Bangladesh and the Indian governments last year initiated the process to launch the passenger trains and the officials of the two countries had talks in Dhaka and Kolkata in July last year.

But the process was stalled for several months as Bangladesh disagreed to the Indian proposal on fencing of both sides of the border from the zero point. Bangladesh feared the proposal would allow India to erect fence along the border violating the border agreement. But the interim cabinet approved the proposal on condition that the fencing would be done exclusively for running the train service.

Both countries have put in place the necessary infrastructure including the fencing at the border. Army chief General Moeen U Ahmed during his visit to India in late February announced that the trains would start on April 14. Since then, the two governments started finishing paper works to launch the train service within the timeframe declared by General Moeen.

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