The passenger train service between Dhaka and Siliguri is expected to resume by the end of this month, according to Bangladesh Railway sources.
The service is going to be operational almost a year after it was formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
Alongside the new service, Dhaka-Kolkata and Khulna-Kolkata train services between Bangladesh and India are also expected to resume on 27 March.
The railway ministry has called an inter-ministerial meeting on Sunday in this regard.
However, the commencement date has not been finalized in the meeting, said Md Shariful Islam, senior information officer at the Ministry of Railways.
The meeting was arranged after the Indian Railway wrote to Bangladesh asking to resume passenger train services between the two neighbouring countries.
Fares, schedules of the third passenger train Mitali Express
Sources at Bangladesh Railway said that Mitali Express will begin its journey from Dhaka's Cantonment station on Mondays and Thursdays.
Meanwhile, the train will operate from New Jalpaiguri station in Siliguri, West Bengal on Sundays and Wednesdays. Customs and immigration facilities will be provided at the stations in New Jalpaiguri, Dhaka Cantonment and Chilahati.
The train will leave Dhaka at 9:50 pm on Mondays and Thursdays and will reach New Jalpaiguri at 7:15 am on Tuesdays and Fridays.
On the other hand, the train will leave New Jalpaiguri at 11:45 am on Sundays and Wednesdays and reach Dhaka at 10:30 pm on the same days.
Bangladesh Railway will sell tickets in three categories and each ticket of berth would be $44 and 15% VAT and Tk500 travel tax would be added to the ticket price. With all that included, the one-way trip on a berth will cost approximately Tk4,905, said the sources.
Meanwhile, each cabin seat would cost $33, meaning the total cost of a ticket would be approximately Tk3,805, while a chair seat would be $22, and the ticket price would be approximately Tk2,705.
However, tickets for children aged below five would be 50% of the regular cost.
Covid-19 halted Maitree and Bandhan services
Direct train service between India and Bangladesh was started in 2008 with the launching of the Maitree Express on the Kolkata-Dhaka route.
Maitree Express is the first modern-day, fully air-conditioned international express train service connecting Dhaka to Kolkata. Previously, train services between the two countries existed before the partition of India by the British and the Maitree Express re-established this connection after 43 years.
In 2017, a second train service, the Bandhan Express, was inaugurated connecting Kolkata with the Bangladeshi city of Khulna.
The Maitree Express runs five days a week. The train travels around 400 km to reach Dhaka from Kolkata. Earlier, there were two stops for immigration checks in Kolkata and Dhaka.
Since November 2017, immigration and customs have been completed at Dhaka and Kolkata, which reduced travel time by two and half hours. It takes around 8 hours 50 minutes to cover the entire stretch.
On other hand, Bandhan express frequency was increased in pre-Covid times. Sources said that now the train will run twice a week on Sundays and Thursdays.
However, both passenger train services between India and Bangladesh have been suspended since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the neighbouring countries in early 2020.