Launch of a new passenger service, making Maitree Express fully air-conditioned and facilitation by Indian Railways for launching a container train service are announcements likely to be made during PM Narendra Modi’s meeting with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina in New Delhi. Hasina arrived in New Delhi on Friday on a four-day visit to India during which agreements in different areas, including the rail sector, are expected to be firmed up, strengthening Indo-Bangla ties.
The Maitree Express, that runs between Dhaka and Kolkata, will be made fully air conditioned with improved coaches comprising four first-class AC coaches and as many AC chair cars. The improved service will start from the occasion of Poila Baisakh on April 14 — the Bengali New Year. The frequency of Kolkata-Dhaka Maitree Express had also been increased from three to four times a week from November 11 last year.
The announcement of this facility is likely to find mention in the joint statements of both the leaders, said a senior Railway Ministry official. The introduction of a new passenger train service from Khulna to Kolkata through Petrapole from the Indian side and Benapole from the Bangladesh side will also be announced. Indian Railways has allocated Rs 10 crore for setting up the required infrastructure for the development of a station at Petrapole.
Of the total allocation, Rs 5 crore is for high-security fencing from Petrapole to zero point. Hasina will also witness the inauguration of a new rail link between Radhikapur and Birol for running goods trains. It will be inaugurated by both leaders through video link. Besides, an cooperation agreement between the Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) and Container company of Bangladesh is likely to be signed for facilitating introduction of container service between the two countries. Concor will provide technical, managerial and other support to Bangladesh for development and running of container trains.