The rail route between Haldibari in West Bengal and Chilahati in neighbouring Bangladesh is all set to reopen after a gap of 55 years on December 17 and prime ministers of the two countries will inaugurate the programme, an official of the Northeast Frontier Railway said on Thursday. The railway line from Haldibari in Cooch Behar to Chilahati in northern Bangladesh has been defunct after rail links between India and then East Pakistan had snapped in 1965.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate Haldibari-Chilahati rail route on December 17," NFR Chief Public Relations Officer Subhanan Chanda said. A goods train will run from Chilahati to Haldibari, which is under the Katihar division of the NRF, to mark the opening of the route, Chanda said. The Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday informed the authorities of the decision to reopen the rail route, said Katihar Divisional Railway Manager Ravinder Kumar Verma.
The distance between Haldibari railway station till the international border is 4.5 kilometres while that from Chilahati in Bangladesh till the zero point is around 7.5 kilometres, sources in the NFR said. Both Haldibari and Chilahati stations were on the old broad gauge railway route between Siliguri and Kolkata that went through areas in present-day Bangladesh.
When passenger train service begins on this route, people will be able to travel to Kolkata from Jalpaiguri, which is near Siliguri, in seven hours, five hours less than what it takes now, Verma said after visiting Haldibari station on Wednesday. Headquartered at Maligaon in Guwahati, the NEF zone covers the entire Northeastern region and parts of Bihar and West Bengal.