The trial run of the first container train between India and Bangladesh was flagged off on Tuesday.
The inaugural train was loaded with 60 containers, mainly carrying de-oiled cake which serves as a raw material for animal feed. It was flagged off from the terminus of the Container Corporation of India (Concor), near Majherhat station in Kolkata.
It will travel through Naihati, Ranaghat and Gede in India and Darsana and Ishurdi in Bangladesh before reaching Bangabandhu West, about 117 km from the neighbouring country’s capital, Dhaka.
After flagging off the trial run of the container train, the Centre is hopeful of introducing regular container train services between the two countries amid a substantial demand for exporting goods to the neighbouring countries, said an official.
“Once the trial run is successful and if Bangladesh gives its clearances, the container train services will be introduced on a regular basis. From our side, we are ready,” Eastern Railway’s General Manager Harindra Rao told reporters here.
The frequency of the train will depend on the demand, he said.
The need for container train services between the two countries had been felt by Indian exporters with growing bilateral trade and capacity constraints that the sea and land routes were grappling with, Railway officials said.
“There is demand for exporting goods to Bangladesh. Among items steel, cement, machine parts, food grains and many others are being imported by the neighbouring countries,” Container Corporation of India’s Chairman and Managing Director Kalyana Rama said.
At present, the bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh is largely road-based through the congested Petrapole-Benapole border.
According to some exporters, on an average it takes anywhere close to a month for a truck to reach Bangladesh as it takes nearly 25 days for customs clearance at the border.