The first passenger train in India ran in 1853 from Mumbai to Thane carrying 400 passengers to a distance of 34 kilometres. The region that is now Pakistan, would get train service two years later.
Eastern Bengal, which was to become Bangladesh later, however, had to wait till 1862 to see its first train.
While train services began in all three countries in around the same decade, its fates have not been similar.
Where India and Pakistan have rapidly transformed their railway sector, making it the backbone of their transportation with a focus on speed and expanding networks, Bangladesh has lagged behind in both aspects.
The country's railway service and development has also been inconsistent with progress with its projects running as slow as its trains.
Recently, the Indian Railways launched a train with an estimated maximum speed of 130 kilometres per hour (km/h) on the Golden Quadrilateral-Golden Diagonal route.
Pakistan is also planning to start a train service that would have a maximum speed of 260km/h.
Aside from their high speed train projects, the average speed of trains in India and Pakistan is 180km/h and 130km/h.
On the other hand, trains in Bangladesh run at a maximum speed of 70-80km/h, and on some routes, the speed is even slower.
Railway Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujon, said the Bangladesh Railway (BR) has trains that can go up to 100kmph, but illegal crossings and traffic congestions make running at that speed impossible.
"If we run the trains at full possible speed, then the number of accidents will go up," Nurul Islam said.
Sardar Shahadat Ali, additional director general (Operation) at BR, said the maximum speed on the broad gauge lines was 100km, while it was only 75kmph on metre gauge for passenger trains.
Metre gauge rail lines were not suitable for running trains at high speed, he said.
The distance between the two rails of the railway track is termed as railway gauge. Broad gauge track measures 1,676mm in India and offers more speed, while the metre gauge tracks at 1000mm compromise speed for costs.
India no longer uses metre gauge tracks, except on one route, while Pakistan has also begun phasing it out.
The west side of Bangladesh is covered by broad gauge tracks, while the metre gauge is used in the east side.
Transportation and communication expert Dr Md Shamsul Hoque identifies another weakness. "In other countries, operation and maintenance get priority, but these are largely neglected here. We only know how to take on big development projects, but not its maintenance," he said.
Highlighting the impact of further river erosion on railways, he also said, "It seems that the speed will drop more in the future because railway embankments will be occupied by more illegal crossings and settlements.
The expert pointed out that no project had been undertaken to ensure that existing trains reached their capacity speeds.
The speeds of trains in Bangladesh pale even further in comparison to the global perspective.
According to different CNN reports, China has the fastest train service that can run at a speed of 600kmph, followed by Germany at 330km/h.
Britain, which first introduced the steam locomotive train and brought the first train service to the Indian subcontinent, now has trains that can run at 300km/h.
Languishing development projects
Bangladesh Railway has often planned for upgradation but these projects often do not reach successful completion.
Last year, the BR conducted a feasibility study for a high-speed broad gauge railway line between Dhaka and Chattogram with trains running at 300km/h. But a lack of funds has meant no further progress has been made.
This is not the only promising project that finds itself stuck for one reason or another.
A six-year project to procure 70 metre gauge diesel electric locomotives has not been completed even after a decade.
Likewise, there are three more ongoing railway projects that have been running at a snail's pace for a decade, leading to multiple time extensions and cost hikes with questionable progress.
There are 41 ongoing railway projects involving Tk1.42 lakh crore, of which at least 20 saw their deadlines get extended up to four times with massive cost overshots.
The nearly 65-kilometre Khulna-Mongla port rail line is another example. Taken up in December 2010, the project was supposed to be completed around June 2014. But more than a decade later, all BR has to show for it is another year-long extension.
Precious little expansion
Over the decades, India has built 67,956km of rail line that connect the country together. Pakistan's rail line measures 11,000km. Even accounting for size differences, Bangladesh's railway network of 2,955km is telling of how far behind it is.
At the time of independence in 1947 from the British, India's portion of rail lines was around 53,500km and that of Pakistan was around 10,700km. Around 2,800km of what Pakistan received was located in East Pakistan, which was to become Bangladesh in 1971, according to BR documents.
In the following years, India expanded its railway network by 14,390km and Pakistan added around 3,000km of rail lines.
In the following 50 years, Bangladesh, however, added a meagre 155km to its existing railway network. This has left 15 districts, including Barishal, Bandarban and Cox's Bazar, outside the BR network.
Asked about the slow pace of railway expansion, Railway Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujon blamed the previous governments.
"Instead of expansion, the previous governments closed some stations and routes," he said.
"Soon after the current government came to power, however, it has been working dedicatedly on railway expansion. We have already opened some closed routes and are constructing some new rail lines like Payra rail line, Chattogram to Cox's Bazar line and Akhaura to Agartala line," he added.
All the fault, however, does not lie with the previous or present governments. Experts have also pointed out historical, geographical and technical reasons.
Transport expert Dr Md Shamsul Hoque said, "The British expanded the railway in areas which were rich in natural and mineral resources and today's Bangladesh was not rich in that respect. Therefore, it was neglected by the British Raj."
Another reason, he said, was the presence of soft alluvium soil on the land which required costly maintenance.
"But in the post-independence period, we did not develop a policy based on a balanced communication system. Rather, we focused on a system that was needed by the donor countries," he added.