India and Bangladesh on Sunday resumed regular operation of goods trains on the Haldibari-Chilahati rail route after 56 years.

The Haldibari-Chilahati rail link was inaugurated in December 2020 during a virtual meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina to strengthen trade ties between the two countries. 

This rail link is also expected to provide an opportunity to Northeast India to enter the international market.

The distance between Haldibari Railway Station and the International Border is 4.5 km, while the distance from Chilhati is approximately 7.5 km. The first goods train left from Dumdim station of Alipurduar division on Sunday and will reach Chilhati station in Bangladesh by Haldibari-Chilahati rail route.

The Haldibari-Chilahati rail link was last operational till 1965. It was part of the broad-gauge main road from Kolkata to Siliguri during the partition. Even after partition, trains traveling to Assam and North Bengal continued to travel through the former East Pakistan region. However, the 1965 war effectively cut off all railway links between India and Bangladesh.

The construction of the rail line from Haldibari station to Bangladesh border started in 2016 and ended in 2017. Indian Railways restored the tracks at a cost of INR 82 crore.

The Haldibari-Chilahati rail route is expected to improve trade, social and economic ties between India and Bangladesh, and will also benefit other South Asian countries such as Nepal and Bhutan.

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