Kolkata: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina and the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee flagged off a new passenger train "Bandhan Express" from Kolkata Station to Khulna in Bangladesh.
Travelling between Kolkata and Khulna, the third largest city in Bangladesh, the fully air-conditioned passenger train will run every Thursday from both Kolkata and Khulna.
She also mentioned the inauguration of Khulna-Kolkata rail service and said that this bond won't remain in only rail, it will also create bonds between the people of the two countries.
This train service is a dream come true for people on both sides of the border, said Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
With the inaugurations of these services, she said, a new door of relationship has been opened up between the two countries, and this will further strengthened in the future.
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While Bengal chief minister described the launch as a remarkable moment for India and Bangladesh.
The prime minister also invited Modi, Swaraj and Banerjee to visit Bangladesh. "Development and connectivity are interconnected and we have taken steps to strengthen the decades-old historical links specially between the people of West Bengal and Bangladesh", PM Modi said.
"I believe that relations between leaders of neighbouring countries should be like neighbours".
He said India was proud to be a reliable partner in Bangladesh's development.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, PM's Economic Affairs Adviser Moshiur Rahman, Political Affairs Adviser HT Imam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Indian High Commissioner to Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla and secretaries concerned were present at the Gono Bhaban.
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"I am also confident that these services would give a boost to cultural exchanges and tourism between our two peoples", she said.
"Bangladesh is one of India's best friend in the world".
"Whenever we talk about connectivity, I always remember your vision to restore India-Bangladesh rail links that existed before 1965", Modi told Hasina during the video conference.
The 1 km long Bhairab railway bridge was built over Meghna at a cost of around $ 75 million by Indian contractors and consultants, while the Titas bridge in eastern Bangladesh was built at a cost of around $ 25 million.
The bridges will reduce travel time between Dhaka and Chittagong as well as Dhaka and Sylhet and the railways would be able to run the dual gauge and broad gauge trains at 100kph and 120kph speeds respectively.
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Apart from Kolkata and Khulna, there will be two stops - Petrapole (in India) for around 10 minutes and Benapole (in Bangladesh) for around 15 minutes.