“India and Bangladesh have started regular operation of freight trains through the Haldibari – Chilahati Rail Route w.e.f 1st August 2021. Indian Railways dispatched the first freight train loaded with stones from Damdim Station of Northeast Frontier Railway to Bangladesh today”, the Indian high commission in Dhaka in a statement said.
The Haldibari-Chilahati rail link was inaugurated in December 2020 during a virtual summit between PM Modi and Bangladesh PM Hasina. On the inauguration day, a goods train was flagged off by the Railway Minister of Bangladesh Md. Nurul Islam Sujan from Chilahati station.
Both India and Bangladesh aim to revive all pre-1965 rail links. As of now, five links connecting West Bengal with Bangladesh have been made operational which include Petrapole (India) – Benapole (Bangladesh), Gede (India) – Darshana (Bangladesh), Singhabad (India) Rohanpur (Bangladesh), Radhikapur (India) – Birol (Bangladesh) with Haldibari-Chilahati forming the 5th such link.
It is important to note that Chilahati-Haldibari rail link will be used for passenger train service –Mitali Express. Mitali Express on Dhaka-New Jalpaiguri-Dhaka route was inaugurated jointly by PM Modi and PM Hasina during the latter’s Dhaka visit in March. As of now, both countries are working on 2 rail links–the Karimganj/Mahisasan (India) – Shahbazpur (Bangladesh) rail link and Agartala – Akhaura (Bangladesh) rail link connecting Tripura and Bangladesh.
It is just not Railway through which connectivity is being firmed up but via bridges, ports and inland waterways. March saw both leaders inaugurating a road bridge over River Feni in Tripura. In 2019 agreement was signed for use of Bangladeshi ports of Chattogram and Mongla Ports and for this, a trial run of transshipment of Indian cargo through Chattogram Port to Tripura was conducted in July 2020. The second addendum to Protocol on Inland Waterways Trade and Transit (PIWTT) signed in May 2020 saw 2 more inland water routes being added that will link Tripura to National Waterways.