PM Modi, Sheikh Hasina, Mamata Banerjee flag off Kolkata-Khulna passenger train

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina, today, jointly flagged off the Khulna-Kolkata train service and opened two bridges on railway routes connecting Dhaka with Sylhet and Chittagong.

The global rail Ppassenger terminus at Chitpur in Kolkata will make it possible for Indian passengers traveling to Dhaka or Khulna in Bangladesh by Maitree Express or the newly launched Bandhan Express to get immigration clearance before boarding the trains.

On Thursday, Hasina and Modi also inaugurated two new railway bridges over the rivers Bhairab and Titas in north-eastern Bangladesh. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also described it as a historic day for both the countries. "This train service is a dream come true for people on both sides of the border".

"With the inauguration of the new International Passenger Terminus and launch of a new train service passengers will be benefitted", he said.

The Indian premier also conveyed best wishes to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her speedy recovery on behalf of the people of India.

"We're ready to co-operate with India and other countries in the immediate neighbourhood for creating a "peace area" in South Asia where we can live together", she said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to speak in Bengali.

"I'm happy to note that we've recently extended our connectivity to space".

"I firmly believe that neighbouring countries should act more like neighbours".

He said India takes pride in being a "reliable partner" in Bangladesh's development.

New bus and train services had been announced during Hasina's visit to India in April.

She also wished all the success of the Maitree Express and Bandhan Express services.

"Bangladesh is one of India's best friend in the world".

Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, PM's Economic Affairs Adviser Moshiur Rahman, Political Affairs Adviser HT Imam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Indian High Commissioner to Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla and secretaries concerned were present at the Gono Bhaban.

"Whenever we talk about connectivity, I always remember your vision to restore India-Bangladesh rail links that existed before 1965", Modi told Hasina during the video conference. "I hope this fine display of mutuality of our relationship will further strengthen our bilateral relations", she added. When the Barisal Express, which used to ferry passengers till 1965, was shut down, passengers were inconvenienced.

Dhaka - Bangladesh and India have restored a railway connection more than five decades after it was suspended because of a war. Bandhan express will strengthen the relationship. It will start from Kolkata at 6:00am and reach Khulna at 1:00pm.

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