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India and Bangladesh have recommenced regular freight operations along the Haldibari-Chilahati rail link after almost 56 years.

Indian Railways, in cooperation with Bangladesh Railway, dispatched the first freight train loaded with stones from Damdim Station of Northeast Frontier Railway to Bangladesh.

The Haldibari-Chilahati rail link was reopened during a virtual meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last December.

This route was restored with an aim to improve trade relations between the two countries.

The link is also anticipated to provide opportunities for northeast India to enter the global market, aiding the growth of trade and economic development.

Haldibari Railway station is 4.5km away from the international border, whereas Chilahati is around 7.5km away from the zero point.

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Indian Railways said in a statement: “As of now, five links connecting India with Bangladesh have been made operational which include Petrapole (India) – Benapole (Bangladesh), Gede (India) – Darshana (Bangladesh), Singhabad (India) Rohanpur (Bangladesh), Radhikapur (India) – Birol (Bangladesh) with Haldibari-Chilahati forming the 5th such link.”

This route is expected to allow the interchange of nearly 20 freight trains per month.

The Haldibari-Chilahati rail line was operational between India and the then East Pakistan until 1965.

During partition, the line was part of the Broad Gauge main route from Kolkata to Siliguri.

After partition, trains continued to operate to Assam and North Bengal through the then East Pakistan territory.

However, all the railway links between both the nations were closed effectively after the war of 1965.

In March this year, a passenger train service, New Jalpaiguri-Dhaka- New Jalpaiguri Mitali Express, was announced by the countries.

The service was not able to commence as per the schedule due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last month, Indian Railways completed a trial run on a new 35km-long newly-gauge converted section between Jaynagar in the Indian state of Bihar and Kurtha in the neighbouring country of Nepal.