A discussion is on between the Indian and Bangladesh governments to start a passenger train service between Kolkata and Khulna apart from the existing Kolkata-Dhaka Maitree Express which is running successfully. “Discussion is on for commencing a passenger train service between Kolkata and Khulna through Petrapole-Benapole border,” Eastern Railway spokesperson RN Mahapatra told PTI in Kolkata.
He said that the two countries were discussing at the ministry level the reintroduction of passenger service on the route which had existed before Independence.
“Goods trains are already running on the route through the Petrapole border near Bongaon in North 24-Parganas district,” Mahapatra said.
At present, the Maitree Express between Kolkata and Dhaka runs through the Gede-Darshana border in Nadia district of West Bengal.
Talks are also going on to increase the frequency of the service owing to its popularity among travellers between the two countries, sources said.
Regular passenger train services existed between Sealdah station and Khulna and Jessore through the Petrapole route before 1947 and creation of East Pakistan, which became independent Bangladesh in 1971.
Since 1947, passenger train service on this route has remained closed. Goods train service between the two countries through Petrapole border was relaunched in January, 2001, in the presence of then Railway minister Mamata Banerjee.
Mahapatra said that apart from the railway ministries in the two countries, other ministries like the External Affairs, Home etc were also involved in the discussion about the commencement of the passenger service.
At present, air, bus and train services are there for travelling between Kolkata and Dhaka.