Dhaka [Bangladesh]: New India-Bangladesh Mitali Express which was flagged off on Wednesday by Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and his Bangladeshi counterpart Mohammad Nurul Islam Sujon will now facilitate Bangladeshis to visit Darjeeling and experience the beauty the hill station offers.
For decades, people living in and around West Bengal in India have been able to visit Darjeeling and experience the beauty the hill station offers. Now, the people of Bangladesh can avail the same, thanks to the Mitali Express, “yet another milestone” in bolstering the friendship between the two nations.
The ‘Maitri’ and ‘Bandhan’ Express had earlier brought Dhaka and Khulna within the reach of Kolkata respectively. Now Mitali is taking Dhaka directly to the doorsteps of the Himalayas.
Union Minister Vaishnaw and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sujon on Wednesday flagged off ‘Mitali Express’ between New Jalpaiguri (India) and Dhaka (Bangladesh) via video conferencing.
Speaking on the occasion, Vaishnaw called the Mitali Express “yet another milestone” in bolstering the friendship between the two nations. “The relationship between India and Bangladesh is based upon our shared heritage, our shared present and our shared future.
The development that we have in both the countries is today accelerated in a very big way by the warm friendship between the two nations at all levels,” he said.
“Mitali Express will be yet another milestone in increasing this friendship, in strengthening this bond, in improving this relationship,” the Railway Minister added.
The Union Minister recalled India’s aid to the neighboring country during the COVID pandemic and said that India had transported about 4,000 tonnes of liquid oxygen and that was another small little contribution to the friendship between the two countries.
Railways Minister of Bangladesh Mohammad Nurul Islam Sujon while speaking on the occasion remembered the Indian soldiers who laid down their lives for the liberation of Bangladesh (then East Pakistan).
The Minister also mentioned his government’s plan to convert all railway tracks to broad gauge to be at par with neighboring countries.
The New Jalpaiguri-Dhaka Cantonment train, bearing number 13132, will run two days a week, i.e., on Sunday and Wednesday, and for the return journey, train no 13131, Dhaka Cantonment-New Jalpaiguri, Mitali Express will run every Monday and Thursday.
The train will cover the distance of around 513km between New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal and Dhaka Cantonment in Bangladesh in nine hours.
As of now, the train will run with four air-conditioned cabin coaches, and four air-conditioned chair cars and will be hauled by a diesel locomotive.
Suvendhu Kumar Chaudhury, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Katihar division of Northeast Frontier Railway said, “We are ready to start the services, the train is ready with maximum facilities. Around 15-20 passengers have already booked their tickets for the first journey.”
There is no commercial stop of Mitali Express between Dhaka Cantonment and New Jalpaiguri Junction railway station (NJP). However, due to technical reasons, the train will make two 10-minute stops on the Indo-Bangladesh border.
The two stations are Haldibari, the last station on the Indian side, and Chilahati, the first station on the Bangladesh side.
The reason for these ‘technical stops’ is that the train driver at the border will change. The train will be operated by Indian drivers in the Indian part. After entering Bangladesh, the train driver of Bangladesh Railway will take charge of Mitali Express.
The fare of the Mitali Express will be slightly higher than that of other ordinary trains in India as it was originally designed with tourists in mind.
According to the North-East Frontier Railway, the two trains departing from India will have three categories of fare per passenger — Air Conditioner (AC) Cabin Berth: Rs 4,905, Air-conditioned (AC) Cabin Chair: Rs 3,805, Ordinary AC chair car: Rs 2,707.
Passengers will be able to book tickets for the NJP-Dhaka route by showing their passport visa at the NJP station near Siliguri to India or at the Overseas Passengers Reservation Counter in Kolkata.