PM Modi flags off Kolkata-Khulna Bandhan Express with Sheikh Hasina, Mamata

Modi, Sheikh Hasina flag off new train service

India, Bangladesh launch cross-border passenger train service

Kolkata: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina and the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee flagged off a new passenger train "Bandhan Express" from Kolkata Station to Khulna in Bangladesh.

Bandhan Express will be a weekly train leaving from Kolkata every Thursday at 7.10 am.

Hasina said she was also happy that two railway bridges at Bhairab and Titas are also being inaugurated which will contribute to faster connectivity between Dhaka and Chittagong.

Hasina said, "The train service is a dream come true for people on both sides of the border". "The relations between the two countries will strengthen in the future", Mamata said.

While Bengal chief minister described the launch as a remarkable moment for India and Bangladesh.

"We want to cooperate with India and other countries in the immediate neighbourhood for creating an area of peace in South Asia where we can live as good neighbours and pursue constructive policies for our peoples benefit", she said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to speak in Bengali.

"I am happy to note that we are making progresses in that direction step by step".

Prime Minister Modi said he believed that the two nations will touch the new heights in development and prosperity as they strengthen ties and relations between the people.

The dignitaries also inaugurated the International Passenger Rail Terminal, End-to-End Immigration and Customs Clearance Facilities (for passengers of Maitree Express and Bandhan Express) at Kolkata station, under the India-Bangladesh Cooperation in Railways.

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was present at the New Delhi office while Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, PM Hasina's Political Affairs Advisor HT Imam, and Economic Affairs Advisor Dr Moshiur Rahman, were present at the Hasina's official Ganobhaban residence.

Prime Minister Hasina said Bangladesh-India had set new high standards of bilateral cooperation which was essential for regional development.

"Whenever we talk of connectivity, I am always reminded of the vision to revive the pre-1965 connectivity".

"Bangladesh is one of India's best friend in the world".

The two railway bridges have been built at a cost of $100 million, which has been met from India's $8 billion soft loan to Bangladesh. The construction work of the second Titas Bridge started on in 2014 and ended last month. This is expected to reduce travel time between Dhaka and Kolkata by almost three hours.

"The rail network, which has been constructed with nearly $100 million, will enhance connectivity in a big way between India and Bangladesh".

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