The newly-inaugurated Bandhan Express began its first commercial service between Kolkata and Khulna from Kolkata Railway Station on Thursday morning. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on November 9 jointly flagged off Kolkata-Khulna train through a video conference. The fully air-conditioned weekly passenger train service will run every Thursday from both Kolkata and Khulna.
Although it has a capacity of 456 passengers, only 53 made the journey today. One of them was Hazi Ramjan Ali, a resident of Ekbalpore in Kolkata, who frequently visits Bangladesh for business purpose. This time he was going to Khulna to attend the marriage of a relative.
“Earlier I used to avail the bis service which usually takes about six hours to reach Khulna. This new train will take about five hours which will save a lot time. The ticket price is even cheaper compared the same in buses,” Ali told The Indian Express.
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The AC Chair Car tickets in buses cost Rs 800 from Kolkata to Khulna while the same had been priced at Rs 670 in Bandhan Express.
Passengers were also happy with the immigration and customs facilities at the Kolkata station which were also inaugurated along with the new train on November 9. The same facilities will be provided to the already existing Kolkata-Dhaka Maitree Express.
A resident of Khulna in Bangladesh, elderly couple Bidhan Poddar and Sabita Poddar, made their return journey by the Bandhan Express today. “It is a historical moment for us to ride the newly launchef train. It is making its first commercial run and we are happy to be a part of it,” Bidhan Poddar told The Indian Express. He had come to Kolkata to visit his elder brother.
The total seating capacity of Bandhan Express is 456, of which 312 are in A/C chair car and the rest 144 in A/C first class. The rail travel distance between Kolkata station and Khulna is 172 km of which 77 km are in India and 95 km are in Bangladesh.
Bandhan Express is the first train to connect Kolkata and Khulna after Barisal Express, which was stopped owing to the India-Pakistan war in 1965. It is a weekly train that will depart from Kolkata every Thurday at 7.10 am and arrive in Khulna, the third largest town in Bangladesh, at 12.30 pm.