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Indian hands over 20 locomotives to Bangladesh as part of growing bilateral ties

Indian Railways hands over 20 Broad Gauge Locomotives to Bangladesh

In a further cementing of bilateral relations, India today handed over 20 Broad Gauge (BG) locomotives to Bangladesh which will give a major fillip to passenger and freight train operations in the neighbouring country.

The handing over ceremony was presided over today at Rail Bhavan in New Delhi, by Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. From the Bangladesh end, Minister of Railway, Md. Nurul Islam Sujan also joined in virtually. The event was attended by senior officials of Indian Railways and delegates of Bangladesh.

The handing over of these diesel locomotives, under grant assistance from the Government of India, fulfils an important commitment made during the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India, in October, 2019.

In keeping with the requirements of Bangladesh Railway, the locomotives have been suitably modified by the Indian side.

Speaking on the occasion the minister said, “India’s relationship with Bangladesh is civilizational, cultural, social and economic. Prime Ministers of both the countries are playing a proactive role to improve bilateral relationship across social, economic and political sectors. Indian Railways is also playing a vital role in improving and strengthening rail connectivity across the border and improving trade between both the countries.”

“As of now, five cross-border broad gauge lines are operational, between Indian and Bangladesh. These include  Geda- Darsana, Benapol- Petrapol, Singhabad- Rohanpur, Radhikapur- Birol and Haldibari-Chilahati. Work on two more cross-border rail connectivities, Akhaura-Agartala and Mahihasan-Shahbazpur are progressing well and are likely to be completed and commissioned shortly,” the minister explained.

Addressing the gathering virtually, Minister of Railway, Bangladesh Mr. Md. Nurul Islam Sujan said, “I express my gratitude to the Indian Government for their support. Previously in June 2020 Indian Government provided 10 locomotives to Bangladesh as a grant. We express our heartfelt gratitude to India for providing broad gauge locomotives. The supply of locomotives will help to improve both goods and passenger trains. We hope that existing collaboration between two countries regarding Railways sector will increase day by day.”

To enhance people-to-people contact, there are presently three pairs of passenger trains running between India and Bangladesh, namely, Kolkata-Dhaka Maitree Express, Kolkata-Khulna Bandhan Express and New Jalpaiguri- Dhaka Mitali Express.

Trade between both the countries via rail has seen consistent growth with interchange of close to 100 cargo trains per month and approximately 2.66 MT cargo was sent to Bangladesh in the last financial year. The export commodities include Stone, DOC, Foodgrains, China Clay, Gypsum, Maize, Onion and other essential items, as and when required, from India. Since 2020 permission has been given to operate parcel container and NMG rakes which normally carry agricultural products, fabrics, finished goods, light commercial vehicles and tractors. A new traffic of geo-synthetic bags has just started and 3 Parcel trains have been sent from Gujarat.

In line with Indian commitment to improve Rail service in Bangladesh, 10 BG Diesel locomotives were handed over to Bangladesh on grant basis in July 2020. Bangladesh has said that these locomotives are performing well and making an immense contribution to the smooth movement of rail traffic in the country.