Mon, Jul 09, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Train marks closer ties between India and Bangladesh

AFP , DHAKA

An Indian passenger train will arrive in the Bangladesh capital yesterday for the first time in more than four decades as the neighbors move to re-connect links separated by war.

The train with 32 Indian Railways officials set off from the eastern Indian city of Kolkata yesterday and was scheduled to arrive in the Bangladesh capital at 5pm, Bangladesh Railway director general Belayet Hossain said.

"Although this is a trial train service, it is a historic occasion for us," he said.

The Indian team from its sprawling state-run rail service will hold two days of meetings with their Bangladesh counterparts to fix customs rules, schedules and the launch date of the Dhaka-Kolkata train service, he said.

"We hope we can announce the formal launching date of the service after the meeting. Possibly the service will start in the third week of this month," he added.

The Bangladesh railway chief said he wants to run the service three times a week with each train carrying around 300 passengers, but said India wants to run the service once a week "which won't be profitable for us."

Passenger train services between the two countries were suspended after the 1965 war between India and Pakistan. Bangladesh was then part of Pakistan and became independent in 1971.

While passenger services have been suspended since 1965, cargo links continued and in the 1990s a passenger bus service was launched between Dhaka and Kolkata, which share the Bengali language.

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