India and Bangladesh will reopen the Chilahati-Haldibari rail link after nearly 55 years. It was cut off during the 1965 India-Pakistan war. The inauguration of the rail link will take place during the Virtual Summit of the Prime Ministers of India and Bangladesh today. With an aim to enhance transport and connectivity between the two nations, the leadership on both sides has been committed to reviving and operationalizing the six pre-1965 rail links between the two countries.
The Haldibari-Chilahati rail link was part of the Broad Gauge main route from Kolkata to Siliguri. However, the war of 1965 effectively cut off all the railway links between the two countries. To revive the ease of access on both sides, the rail links are being restored, enhancing connectivity and people-to-people ties on both sides.
With the inauguration of the Haldibari-Chilahati rail link, five out of six rail links will become operational. The other four operational rail links between India and Bangladesh are Petrapole-Benapole, Gede-Darshana, Singhabad-Rohanpur and Radhikapur-Birol.
Haldibari-Chilahati route will enhance connectivity to Assam and West Bengal from Bangladesh. This link will enhance rail network accessibility and give a boost to bilateral trade and economic development of the region. Currently, the rail link will facilitate the movement of goods cargo. Passenger movement will also commence as soon as the necessary infrastructure on both sides is in place.
India and Bangladesh have also stepped up their rail cooperation in mitigating the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic. Rail as a cost-effective and environmental-friendly solution has helped in transporting essential commodities across the border.