DHAKA: Passenger train services –Maitree Express and Bandhan Express– between Bangladesh and India resumed on Sunday, two years after it was paused due to the outbreak of coronavirus, according to Bangladesh Railway officials.
The Maitree Express train service between Dhaka and Kolkata resumed from Dhaka Cantonment Railway station on Sunday.
“The train departed from (Dhaka) Cantonment Railway Station with 165 passengers onboard to Kolkata…it will make its return voyage on Monday and reach Dhaka,” a Bangladesh Railway (BR) spokesman said.
He added that the expected journey time was about eight hours. Dhirendra Nath Majumder, the Director General of Bangladesh Railways, said from now on the train would run five days a week though it did not draw the expected number of passengers on the first day apparently because the COVID-19 situation was yet to be wiped out completely.
BR officials said the 465-seat train used to carry around 300 passengers on an average. Meanwhile, another train service, Bandhan Express, which runs between on Bangladesh’s southwestern Khulna and Kolkata route reached Bangladesh, resuming its service after two years of halt, they said.
Bandhan Express runs two days a week. Both the trains have air-conditioned chair cars and executive class compartments.
The development came as a third service, Mitali Express, is expected to be launched on June 1 to run between West Bengal’s northern New Jalpaiguri and Dhaka, particularly as a tourist train expecting to reach Bangladeshis to Darjeeling hills and Dooars’ forests and tea gardens.
As the two trains resumed services after over a two year gap, in India an Eastern Railway (ER) official said people on both sides of the border are excited about the resumption of the train services, which are fully booked for the next few days.
“With the comfort of train travel and a convenient time schedule along with affordability, people prefer this mode of transport over others such as bus and air,” said ER spokesperson Ekalavya Chakraborty.