This is the fifth such route of the pre-1965 links to be restored by the two countries

India and Bangladesh on Sunday started regular operation of freight trains through the Haldibari-Chilahati rail route which has been revived by the two countries after 56 years.

The reopening of the Haldibari-Chilahati rail link makes it the fifth such route of seven pre-1965 links that existed between India and Bangladesh.

Announcing the reopening of commercial services, the Northeast Frontier Railway said that the first goods train to Bangladesh through the Haldibari-Chilahati rail link was loaded with stone chips.

“The first goods train to Bangladesh through the re-opened Haldibari - Chilahati rail link is being loaded with stone chips at Damdim station of Alipurduar Division, NFR. The train is scheduled to reach Chilahati (Bangladesh) on 01.08.2021,” said a post of the Northeast Frontier Railway on Saturday.

The Haldibari-Chilahati rail link was inaugurated on 17 December last year during the virtual bilateral summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh.
But, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, regular train services could not be resumed then.

The Haldibari-Chilahati route will provide a shorter route for transit of goods into Bangladesh from Assam, West Bengal, Nepal and Bhutan.

This link will enhance rail network accessibility to the main ports, dry ports and land borders to support the growth in regional trade and to encourage economic and social development of the region.

Economic activities of these South Asian countries will also be benefitted from this new rail link, sources say.

The Haldibari–Chilahati rail link between India and the then East Pakistan was operational till 1965. This was part of the Broad Gauge main route from Kolkata to Siliguri during partition.

Trains travelling to Assam and North Bengal continued to travel through the then East Pakistan territory even after partition.
However, the war of 1965 effectively cut off all the railway links between India and the then East Pakistan.

At present, five rail routes connect Bangladesh and India. These are: Petrapole-Benapole, Gede-Darshana, Singhabad-Rohanpur, Radhikapur-Birol and Haldibari-Chilahati.