Mitali Express, with 18 passengers on board in its maiden journey from New Jalpaiguri station, reached Dhaka Cantonment on June 1 evening amid hopes for better connectivity between the two neighbours. Although the number of passengers for the maiden journey from the Indian side was not convincing, but the service opens up the horizon with expectations for a successful international train connection in coming days.
After crossing the international border between India and Bangladesh, the train reached Chilahati railway station in Bangladesh where the locomotive of Indian Railway was replaced by Bangladesh locomotive to lead the train to Dhaka Cantonment.
Citizens of both the nations gathered across the border to have a glimpse of the historic train run between the two neighbouring nations which formally resumed after 1965.
On June 1 morning, Mitali Express was virtually flagged off jointly by Railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and Bangladesh railway minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan from Railway Board in New Delhi. Lok Sabha MP Jayanta Roy and West Bengal MLA Sankar Ghosh flagged off the train from New Jalpaiguri station in presence of Anshul Gupta, general manager, Northeast Frontier Railway along with other officials of NF Railway.
Seven rail links were operational between India and then East Pakistan till 1965. With the addition of Haldibari (India) – Chilahati (Bangladesh) rail link, the fifth rail link between the two nations have become active again, which were established during British Era of Indian Railways.
And as the Mitali Express reached Dhaka Cantonment station in the capital city of Bangladesh following Maitri Express and Bandhan Express, three among the five rail routes were resumed with international passenger train services connecting India.
Meanwhile, Liton Dey, station manager at Dhaka Cantonment confirmed The Daily Star that the train arrived Dhaka at 10.55 PM (BD Time) on June 1.
The maiden run of Mitali Express is not only news but an eyeopener for Madhobi Chakrabarty Rakhi, a school teacher and frequent traveller from Sylhet (Bangladesh). “This train is going to solve all our hassles to travel to north Bengal to witness the mesmerising natural beauty of the Himalayan foothills,” she said.
She added that the train service is very economical as far as international travel between the two countries is concerned. She dreams of visiting north Bengal in the near future through Mitali Express, and further take the Toy Train services from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling with her family.