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Expanding Sub-regional partnership: India hands over 10 locomotives to Dhaka


New Delhi: India on Monday handed over 10 Broad Gauge (BG) locomotives to Bangladesh expanding cross-border transportation partnership with an eye on effective sub-regional cooperation.

The handover of these locomotives, which is a part of grant assistance from the Government of India, is in fulfillment of India’s commitment agreed during the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in October 2019.

In a handing over ceremony held, 10 Broad Gauge (BG) locomotives were virtually flagged off to Bangladesh by the External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar and the Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry Piyush Goyal. The event was also attended by the Minister of State for Railways, Suresh Angadi. From the Bangladesh end, Minister of Railway, Md. Nurul Islam Sujan and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Abul Kalam Abdul Momen received the locomotives on behalf of the Government of Bangladesh.

Speaking on the occasion, External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar, highlighted the depth of time tested India-Bangladesh ties, based on mutual trust and respect. He expressed his happiness that the COVID pandemic had not slowed down the pace of bilateral cooperation and conveyed that he looked forward to more such milestones in the ongoing historic Mujib Barsho.

The Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry underscored the significance of railway cooperation in enhancing bilateral trade and connectivity and in further boosting the economic partnership between the two countries.

In the recent times, India and Bangladesh have stepped up their rail cooperation in mitigating the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic, as trade via land border faced disruptions. Rail as a cost effective and environmental friendly solution, has helped in transporting essential commodities across the border. Both sides saw the highest ever exchange of freight trains in the month of June. A total of 103 freight trains were utilized for carrying essential commodities and raw materials.

Recently, parcel and container train services have also commenced between India and Bangladesh. This is expected to significantly enhance the scope of bilateral trade .

In keeping with the requirements of Bangladesh Railway, the locomotives have been suitably modified by the Indian side. These locomotives will help handle the increasing volume of passenger and freight train operations in Bangladesh.

Indo-Bangladesh rail cooperation is a vital element of bilateral cooperation in promoting trade and connectivity and in boosting the economic partnership.

India and Bangladesh are jointly working to enhance rail connectivity by developing some crucial railway projects as well as by restoring some old rail links with Bangladesh, ET has reliably gathered. At present, the four operational rail links between India and Bangladesh connecting West Bengal with Bangladesh are Petrapole (India) – Benapole (Bangladesh), Gede (India) – Darshana (Bangladesh), Singhabad (India)-Rohanpur (Bangladesh), Radhikapur (India)–Birol (Bangladesh).

Two passenger trains – Bandhan Express [Kolkata-Khulna] (2 days/ week) and Maitree Express [Kolkata-Dhaka] (5 days/ week) operate between the two countries. Their movement at the moment been temporarily suspended due to covid pandemic

A total of 17 railway sector projects have been included in Line of Credit assistance extended by India to Bangladesh, with a commitment of $ 2.44 billion. India has offered all LoCs to Bangladesh at a rate of interest of 1% p.a., repayment over 20 years with a moratorium for 5 years contrary to the interest charged by China for its loan under BRI projects.

Of these 17 railway sector projects, 9 have been successfully completed including supply of BG/MG locomotives, flat wagons, railway bridges and signalling equipment, among others. Railway projects under implementation using LoC assistance include – Kulaura-Shahbazpur railway line at a cost of $ 78 million, likely to be completed by end of this year; Khulna-Mongla railway line project worth $ 389 million (along with the railway bridge) likely to be completed by June 2021, according to informed sources. Three other projects at various stages of implementation pertain to double line track, a conversion of meter gauge line to dual gauge line and a new dual gauge rail line.

In addition, cross border rail link of approx. 12 Kms is being built under Grant-in-Aid between Agartala and Akhaura town on the Dhaka-Chittagong trunk line. This is likely to be completed by March 2021 and will further enhance freight and passenger connectivity between India and Northeastern states

Technical details of Locomotives:

• Association of BR and IR began way back in 1996 with export of 10 MG locos from DLW.

• About 40 more BG locos exported over the years from 2001 to 2014.

• 120 passenger coaches also exported in 2016-17

• Now 10 BG locos of WDM3D type

• All locos have residual life of 28 years or more

• These are 3300 HP, designed for speed of 120 kmph

• Suitable for hauling freight as well as passenger trains

• Microprocessor based control system

• Ergonomic layout of driver’s cab for stress free driving and improved visibility for safer running

• Maintenance friendly features for quicker and easier maintenance

• IR has modified the locos to suit the maximum height restrictions in BR

• IR is keen to partner with BR for supply and maintenance of all types of rolling stock

• Theses locos would provide improved train operations within BR and also for interchange with IR and strengthen the partnership between both railways further.

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