Dhaka, Bangladesh
Dhaka-Narayanganj duel-gauge- line train service

Dhaka-Narayanganj duel-gauge- line train service

The construction work of the Dhaka-Narayanganj duel-gauge- line is likely to miss deadline that will end on June 30, 2019. The duration of the 5-year project will end June 30, 2019. The duration of the Ecnec project has been July1, 2014 —June 30, 2019. The cost of the project has been estimated at taka 188,67,00,000. The Chinese company has been implementing the project. when this project will be completed, some 20,000 passengers can themselves avail the train service on the Dhaka-Narayanganj rail route. Meanwhile, with gradual rise in the number of passengers on Dhaka-Kolkata train route, Bangladesh and India should mull over a consultation on the introduction of the bullet-train on the Dhaka-Kolkata route to reduce travel time, said a high official of Bangladesh Railway. In 2014, a total of 33,150 passengers availed themselves of on Maitree Express while visiting India. The number of train passengers was 46,261 in 2015, 50,675 in 2016 and 87,519 in 2017 and 52, 007 during the January-July period of the current calendar years 2018. Now Maitree Express, introduced in 2008, takes 8/9 hours as travel time. The passengers have demanded that travel time should be reduced to 4/5 hours. Patients, older people and women prefer train service compared to the bus service because of convenience, said Sonia Shompa, a housewife who visited India last year several times. Last year 2.2 million Bangladeshis visited India and this year the number is expected to rise over 2.5 million. Maitree Express is the name of the first modern international passenger train service connecting Bangladesh to the Indian state of West Bengal. Train services continued between the two countries till 1965. After 43 years, the connection was re-established between Dhaka and Kolkata in 2008. It runs four days a week from each side, traveling around 375 km between Dhaka and Kolkata. Previously it took around 10 to 11 hours to cover the entire stretch that should be reduced 4/5 hours. Launched amid much enthusiasm and fanfare in 2008, Dhaka-Kolkata passenger train service now sees almost full capacity of the carriages used. In the past passengers attributed poor show of the Maitree Express service to long stops at the border stations-Darshana in Bangladesh and Gede in India-for immigration and customs formalities, twice-a-week only (Saturday-Sunday) schedule and hassles in ticket purchase in Kolkata. Necessary efforts to popularise the train service are yet to be made by the ministries concerned in both the countries. Bangladesh officials however said the two countries have already worked out solutions to passenger sufferings and are making passenger-friendly schedule for the train service. “We hope to see a rise in the number of passengers with some steps taken shortly,” said a high official of Bangladesh. Train service between Bangladesh and India, which was discontinued following the India-Pakistan war in 1965, resumed on April 14 after 43 years with two Maitree Express trains reaching Dhaka and Kolkata in the evening that day. The train from Dhaka has 456 seats. Maitree express leaves Dhaka at 8.15 am and reaches Kolkata at 4.15 pm while it leaves at 7.00 am Kolkata and reaches at 4.00 pm in Dhaka. In initial stage, most passengers of Maitree Express are irked by the five-hour wait for immigration and customs clearance at the border stations of Darshana and Gede for the 538km journey—418km in Bangladesh and 120km in India. The train from Bangladesh leaves for Kolkata on Saturday and returns on Sunday while the train from India leaves for Dhaka on Tuesday and get back on Wednesday,” For Kolkata-bound passengers, Dhaka Cantonment station is for boarding and customs checking and Darshana for immigration checking under the present arrangement. Bangladesh authorities will soon start immigration checking too at the Cantonment station. “The ministries concerned, business communities, chambers, and cultural, religious, sports and tourism organisations of the two countries must come up with specific initiatives to popularise Maitree Express service,” a communications ministry official said. Meanwhile, the government has taken seven decisions to stop smuggling by “luggage parties” in Maitree Express, the international passenger train service plying between Dhaka and Kolkata for the past 10 years. The decisions were taken at a recent inter-ministerial meeting chaired by the National Board of Revenue (NBR) chairman, Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan. The commissioner of Customs House in Dhaka, Prokash Dewan, informed the meeting that there were many “luggage parties” who smuggled goods in their baggages without declaration while visiting Dhaka and Kolkata frequently in the guise of passengers. “They are using some railway stations such as Iswardi, Tongi and even the Cantonment railway station, since there is no security and movable fencing to control the passengers. The windows of Maitree Express often remain open during its run,” he said. Farhana Rahman and Imran Ahmed Dhanmondi, Dhaka

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