India and Bangladesh reopened the 55-years-old Chilahati-Haldibari rail link on December 17, 2020. Indian PM Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina, PM of Bangladesh inaugurated the service in a virtual bilateral summit. The opening follows Vijay Diwas celebrations to mark the victory of Indian forces over Pakistan troops during the Bangladesh liberation war of 1971.
A goods train crossed the Indo-Bangla border to reach Haldibari station in Cooch Behar amid loud cheers on Thursday, as this rail route between India and Bangladesh reopened after a gap of 55 years. The link was cut off during 1965, Indo-Pak war but reopened again to enhance connectivity and transport between India and Bangladesh. The distance between West Bengal’s Haldibari station till the international border is 4.5kms. While from Chilahati in Bangladesh till the zero points is approx.
Chilahati-Haldibari was the fifth rail route to connect India with Bangladesh. The existing four, all of which connect various stations of Bengal, are Petrapole-Benapole, Gede-Darshana, Singabad-Rohanpur, and Radhikapur-Birol. Only the Calcutta-Dhaka Maitree Express on Gede-Darshana ferries passengers, the rest are all goods trains on these routes.
While Modi stressed strengthening bilateral relations with Bangladesh, Hasina underscored the need to work together to help the economies of both nations. “I believe both the countries further integrate our economies by taking advantage of the available synergies. Our ongoing connectivity initiatives are working as catalysts in this regard. A prime example is the resumption of the Chilahati-Haldibari rail route which we will inaugurate today (Thursday),” Hasina said at the virtual summit.
At 11 am, as the two Prime Ministers inaugurated the route, a goods train with 30 empty wagons and two guardrooms departed from Chilahati to head for Haldibari. There were two loco pilots, assistant loco pilots, and guards on board the train. It reached the zero point where officials of the Border Security Force (BSF) and Customs carried out the checking.