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India hands over 20 broad gauge locomotives to Bangladesh

As part of further strengthening bilateral ties, India on Tuesday virtually handed over 20 Broad Gauge (BG) diesel locomotives to Bangladesh.

Indian Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw virtually joined the handing over ceremony from Rail Bhaban here this afternoon while his Bangladeshi counterpart Nurul Islam Sujan from Bangladesh end, BSS reports.

The event was also attended by Chairman and CEO of Indian Railway Board A.K.Lahoti, other board members, senior officials of Railway Board and delegates of Bangladesh.

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

In line with the requirements of Bangladesh Railway, the locomotives have been suitably modified by the Indian side. These locomotives will help handle the increasing volume of passenger and freight train operations in Bangladesh, Indian railway sources said.

Speaking on this occasion, Indian Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that India’s relationship with Bangladesh is civilizational, cultural, social and economic.

“Prime Ministers of both the countries are playing proactive role to improve bilateral relationship across social, economic and political sectors,” he added.

He said the Indian Railways are playing a vital role in improving and strengthening rail connectivity across the border and improving trade between both the countries.

“As of now, five BG connectivity are operational, namely Geda- Darsana, Benapol- Petrapol, Singhabad- Rohanpur, Radhikapur- Birol and Haldibari-Chilahati,” he said, adding that work on two more cross border rail connectivity — Akhaura-Agartala and Mahihasan-Shahbazpur — are progressing well and are likely to be completed and commissioned shortly.

Addressing the gathering virtually Bangladesh Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujan expressed gratitude to the Indian government for their support saying the supply of locomotives will help improve both goods and passenger trains in Bangladesh.

He hoped that existing collaboration between two countries regarding Railways sector will increase day by day. Previously in June 2020 Indian government provided 10 locomotives to Bangladesh as grant.

Three pairs of passenger trains are currently running between India and Bangladesh to enhance people to people contact. They are-Kolkata-Dhaka Maitree Express, Kolkata-Khulna Bandhan Express and New Jalpaiguri- Dhaka Mitali Express.

According to Indian official sources, trade between both the countries via rail have seen consistent growth with the interchange of nearly 100 cargo trains per month and approximately 2.66 MT cargo was sent to Bangladesh in the last financial year.

The export commodities are- stone, DOC, food grains, 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, sources said.

According to sources, India, in line with its commitment to improve Rail service in Bangladesh, has handed over 10 BG Diesel locomotives to Bangladesh on grant basis in July 2020.