Dhaka, Bangladesh
Bullet-train to pare travel time

Dhaka-Kolkata route

Bullet-train to pare travel time

Bangladesh and India should mull over introducing bullet-train on the Dhaka-Kolkata route to reduce travel time, sources said. A leading businessman while talking to the International News Agency opined that bullet-train on the Dhaka-Kolkata route will help boost bilateral trade and people-to-people connection between the two countries. Last year 2.2 million Bangladeshis visited India and this year the number is expected to rise up to 2.5 million. Passengers will be relieved of lengthy journeys between Dhaka and Kolkata, once the high-speed train service is introduced on the route. Now travel time on Maitree Express, introduced in 2008, takes 8/9 hours that passengers have demanded be reduced to 4/5 hours. Patients, old-age people and women prefer train service compared to the bus service because of convenience. A professor of the Dhaka University while talking to the news agency said the government should start consultation with the Indian government on the issue. Travelling in Europe by train is already faster than by plane; and neighbouring India is also moving towards travel by bullet train. Sonia Shompa, a housewife, has opined that she will prefer travelling by bullet train with family members if bullet train is introduced on the Dhaka-Kolkata route. Recently, Bangladesh Railway (BR) signed a deal with a consortium of two companies for doing the feasibility study and detailed design for the first-ever high-speed train project. Once the project is completed, the journey between the capital and the port city will take only two hours, which currently takes more than five hours. Now Bangladesh Railway has taken a project to launch a high-speed train by June 2022. The Tk 102 crore contract was signed between BR and the consortium of China Railway Design Corporation (CRDC) and Mazumder Enterprise (ME) of Bangladesh. Established in 2003, ME is an integrated consulting, engineering and contracting services firm. The company Bullet-train to pare travel From Page 16 Col. 4 has been involved with several big projects of the government, but this is its first in the rail sector, CEO Mohammed Jashim Uddin Chowdhury said. Dubbed the "bullet train", it will run at maximum a speed of 200 km per hour. Existing Bangladeshi inter-city trains run at a maximum speed of 70 km per hour. 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. By reinstating two railway routes from the British colonial era, India and Bangladesh are hoping for increased friendship and peace between its citizens. The Maitree Express, which started operations nine years ago, is slowly winning the hearts and minds of travelers by providing affordable and regular transport between the two countries. Sources said 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 high official of Bangladesh. Meanwhile, Bangladesh is looking forward to enter the bullet train era as the government has already completed some preliminary works for constructing the Dhaka-Chittagong high speed rail line. The train from Dhaka has 456 seats. Matree 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. Dr Moinul Khan, former director general (DG) of Customs Intelligence and Investigation, said there were only 30 policemen to provide security to the passengers in the international train. He urged the authorities concerned to stop the 10-minute stoppage of the train at the Iswardi railway station during its run. To ensure the security of the train as well as the passengers, Md Munim Hassan, joint secretary of Security Service Division of the home ministry, recommended the deployment of members of the Armed Police Battalion (APBn). After the discussion, the NBR chairman decided to build a godown, set up movable fencing, two scanning machines, surveillance of the passengers by customs intelligence personnel, stop stoppage at Iswardi station, set up a bank and close all windows of the train before it reached its destination. Sources in the Customs intelligence said that many passengers of the train brought goods into the country without paying duties and taxes. Many passengers in the train frequently brought Indian three-piece, Panjabi and imitation jewelleries in their luggage without paying taxes, they said.

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