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Modi, Hasina, Mamata flag-off Kolkata-Khulna friendship train

Modi, Hasina, Mamata flag-off Kolkata-Khulna friendship train

She was addressing a programme at the Gono Bhaban marking the inauguration of the end-to-end immigration and customs of Maitree Express, flagging off Bandhan Express (Khulna-Kolkata) and launching of train communication on the newly-built 2nd Bhairab and 2nd Titas railway bridges, reports UNB.

Prime Minister Modi during the inaugural run of the train said, "The ties of friendship between India and Bangladesh will further strengthen". An overwhelmed Bangladeshi PM said, "The inauguration of the train services and the two bridges marked a new episode in the relationship of both the countries".

"I am happy to know that work is in progress in our United States dollars 8 billion concessional finance commitment. I hope this fine display of mutuality of our relationship will further strengthen our bilateral relations", she added.

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was present at the New Delhi office while Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, PM Hasina's Political Affairs Advisor HT Imam, and Economic Affairs Advisor Dr Moshiur Rahman, were present at the Hasina's official Ganobhaban residence.

"I have always said that protocol must not come in the way of bilateral relations, especially when it comes to interactions with neighbors, and when it is aimed at achieving development and progress", Modi said.

Bangladesh values such engagements so "we can live as good neighbours and pursue constructive policies for the benefit of our people". "I'm sure these connectivity initiatives will further consolidate this vision".

Hasina said as friendly nations there has been an excellent relationship between the two countries and continuation of such relationship is very essential, the Daily Star reported.

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In Kolkata, Chief Minister Banerjee said: "This is a huge gain for passenger convenience".

Railway sources said the new train would start its commercial operation from November 16.

Under an agreement with Bangladesh government, India's Ircon-Afcons JV constructed the bridge having both dual gauge and broad- gauge facilities.

The Bandhan Express is scheduled to ply the route every Thursday. "Hasinaji I invite you to visit Bengal".

Bandhan Express, a fully air-conditioned weekly passenger train, will run between the two cities on Thursday.

Apart from Kolkata and Khulna, there will be two stops - Petrapole (in India) for around 10 minutes and Benapole (in Bangladesh) for around 15 minutes. It will not only help them in customs and immigration but also save three hours of their travel time.

The two railway bridges have been built at a cost of $100 million, which has been met from India's $8 billion soft loan to Bangladesh.