Bangladesh and India have begun talks about preparations to introduce a passenger train service between Dhaka and Siliguri, a key commercial and tourism spot in the neighbouring country.
The Dhaka-Siliguri rail routes will be the third in kind alongside Dhaka-Kolkata and Khulna-Kolkata train routes to carry passengers.
Railway sources said both countries are discussing issues keeping in mind to launch the train service through this route by March next.
Sardar Shahadat Ali, additional director general (operations) of Bangladesh Railway, said an eight-member team led by Md Shahidul Islam, divisional railway manager of Paksey Railway Division, is holding talks in New Jalpaiguri with the Indian Northeast Frontier Railway team spearheaded by RK Verma, manager, Katihar Divisional Railway.
Since Monday both teams are focusing on various issues relating to operations and commerce in the run up to Dhaka-Shiliguri passenger train service.
Bangladesh Railway's Additional Director General Sardar Shahadat Ali said: "Our team is in talks about the launch of train services through the new route. After returning from India we will submit an updated report which will be discussed at the higher level."
"If everything goes fine and if both governments agree, the train service will kick off on 26 March."
Meanwhile, S Chandra, chief public relations officer of Indian Northeast Frontier Railway said, "Senior officials from both the governments are at the meeting to discuss a range of issues pertaining to the train service," reports Telegraph India.
In October 2020, the Ministry of Bangladesh Railways announced that Bangladesh and India were planning to introduce a passenger train service on Dhaka-Siliguri route from this March as the restoration work of Chilahati-Haldibari rail link was nearly complete.
Later on 17 December last year, India and Bangladesh reopened an old railway route that used to connect Chilahati station (Nilfamari in Bangladesh) to Haldibari station (in Cooch Behar) after a gap of over 50 years.
The prime ministers of both the countries jointly inaugurated the route for goods train services.
Sources said Indian Railways had already developed infrastructure in Haldibari station.
As recently as on Sunday, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal inaugurated a new station building, a circulating area and signaling and electronic interlocking system in Haldibari, which is the last Indian station along the route.
Though freight trains are operating between Bangladesh and India, two passenger train operations between Dhaka and Kolkata and Khulna and Kolkata have remained suspended since last March due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.