India – Bangladesh Inter Governmental Railway Meeting (IGRM) was held in New Delhi on May 25th – 27th, 2015. Besides officials of Indian Railways and Bangladesh Railway, representatives of departments of Customs, Immigration and External Affairs from both countries also participated in the deliberations.
During the course of extensive deliberations that were held in keeping with the established environment of mutual trust and co-operation between the two Railways, satisfaction was expressed at the implementation of the decisions taken in the last meeting, which was held in Dhaka in April 2014 to augment the frequency of Maitree Express to three round trips in a week with effect from 4th January 2015. As regards the need / feasibilities of increasing the frequency of this train to four times, it was agreed that Bangladesh Railway would conduct a due diligence exercise and revert to Indian Railways in due course. It was also agreed that both sides would further pursue the initiative to shift Customs and Immigration checks to Kolkata and Dhaka. To this end, IR expressed its readiness to convert Maitree Express into a fully air conditioned service.
In response to the popular demand and need for introduction of a weekly passenger service between Khulna and Kolkata, both sides agreed to expeditiously evaluate the feasibility of initially operating this once a week service via the longer Gede – Darsana route with an Indian Railways’ rake and review arrangements after issues relating to conduct of Customs and Immigration checks at Benapole/Petrapol or at Kolkata/Dhaka get settled.
The need for immediate introduction of Container train services between India and Bangladesh was reiterated by Indian Railways. It was appreciated by both sides that this would help in optimizing the level of trans-border clearance of goods and in bringing down the overall transaction cost for trade. Both railways also agreed to start transportation by rail of Petroleum products from Numaligarh Refinery in Assam to Parbatipur in Bangladesh via the existing interchange points at Rohanpur and Singhabad.
With a view to catalyze growth in trade between the two countries, the need for undertaking rail connectivity projects like Radhikapur (India) – Birol (Bangladesh), Chilahati (Bangladesh) – Haldibari (India), Shahbazpur (Bangladesh) – Mahisasan (India), Akhoura (Bangladesh) – Agartala (India) and Feni (Bangladesh) – Belonia (India) was appreciated by both sides.
In response to IR’s request for being allowed access to BR network for the purposes of carrying through traffic to and from its Eastern States, Bangladesh Railway agreed to have the proposal placed for due consideration at the appropriate levels of its Governments.