THE TRAIN NOW PLIES TWICE A WEEK BETWEEN INDIA AND BANGLADESH
By bappaditya paul
The railway authorities of India and Bangladesh have decided to increase the frequency of Maitree Express that plies between Kolkata and Dhaka, by one more day a week. A formal announcement on this is soon expected from the Railway Board in New Delhi. Maitree Express, introduced on 14 April 2008, now runs twice a week from both directions. From Kolkata it runs on Tuesday and Saturday; from Dhaka it plies on Wednesday and Friday. The plan is to run it one more day a week ~ on Sunday from Kolkata and on Monday from Dhaka.
To discuss necessary preparations for the increase in frequency, the railway officials of Bangladesh and India today held a meeting at Sealdah in Kolkata. The Bangladesh Railway delegation was led by its divisional railway manager (DRM) for Paksey, Mr Musharaff Hussain; Indian side was headed by the Sealdah DRM, Ms Jaya Varma Sinha. The meeting was held in Sealdah DRM office. “It was a co-ordination meeting at the DRM level and we discussed all issues including the frequency increase of Maitree Express. It has been decided in-principle to run the train on one more day but a date for this will be formally announced by the Railway Board in New Delhi,” Ms Sinha said.
She said that while on the operational side the railways of both the countries were in a position to augment the frequency right way, it might take some more time to happen, as it was an inter-ministerial matter involving Immigration, Customs and the Union Home Ministry.
Meanwhile, while the frequency increase waits to happen, beginning 12 November, Bangladesh Railway has augmented the number of coaches in Maitree Express from previous six to seven. Indian Railways had added one coach to its previous six-coach rake on 23 September.The move comes in the wake of a significant leap in passenger occupancy in Maitree Express. In 2013-14, the train had registered 68 per cent monthly occupancy from Kolkata; until September this fiscal year, the monthly occupancy stood at 85 per cent. From Dhaka, the train had registered 73 per cent monthly occupancy in 2013-14; until September this fiscal year, the monthly occupancy stood at 86 per cent.
Apart from Maitree Express that plies via the Gede border in Nadia district, three goods trains also ply between India and Bangladesh daily on an average. While two goods trains run via Gede; one goods train operate via the Petrapole border in North 24-Parganas district.
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 14 November 2014.)