A goods train with 33 bogeys flagged off from Bangladesh on Thursday revived the Chilahati-Haldibari rail route after 55 years amid thunderous cheers on both sides of the border. The train, flagged off by Bangladesh railway minister Nurul Islam Sujon, was greeted by thousands as it reached Zero Point from Chilahati station. It chugged into India at Haldibari around 2pm.
“It’s like a dream come true. We are now looking forward to passenger trains on this route. We have heard stories of how Darjeeling Mail, pulled by a steam engine, used to run from Sealdah to Siliguri along this route,” said Haldibari resident Sajal Chakraborty.
Darjeeling Mail, one of the oldest trains between Kolkata and north Bengal, could be among the first passenger trains to operate on the revived route three months later. It will save nearly five hours between Sealdah and New Jalpaiguri Station.
While flagging off the goods train, Sujon reportedly announced that a passenger train would ply from Dhaka to Siliguri three times a week from March 26, and trains from NJP would go to Sealdah via Bangladesh’s Chilahati, Domar, Toronbari, Nilfamari, Sayeedpur, Darshana and Parbatipur before entering India through the Gede border.
Loco master Amal Sarkar said: “This is a prestigious moment for us as we have been entrusted the job of taking the engine from Chilahati to Haldibari. We are honoured.”