UPDATE: Added official statement on handing over ceremony at the end
India has today handed over 10 broad gauge diesel locomotives to Bangladesh in a web-ceremony attended by the Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal, Chairman, Railway Board and several other officials, including those from the Government of Bangladesh.
The locomotives are based on the Indian Railways ALCo design platform. They have a residual life of 28+ years and are capable of 120 kph, according to information released by Indian Railways.
These locomotives have been provided to Bangladesh as a grant. According to BR officials, these units will mainly be used for hauling freight traffic.
Interesting Facts on Indian Railways association with Bangladesh on Rolling Stock
• 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.
India’s Railway Link Projects with 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.
At present, the 4 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 LoC assistance extended by India to Bangladesh, with a commitment of US$ 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.
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 US$ 78 million, likely to be completed by end of this year; Khulna-Mongla railway line project worth USD 389 million (along with the railway bridge) likely to be completed by June 2021.
Three other projects at various stages of implementation pertaining 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.
Official Statement on the Handing Over Ceremony of 10 Locomotives to Bangladesh
In a handing over ceremony held today, 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, Shri Piyush Goyal. The event was also attended by the Minister of State for Railways, Shri Suresh C. 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.
The handing over of these locomotives, under grant assistance from the Government of India, fulfills an important commitment made during the visit of Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina to India, in October, 2019. 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.
Speaking on the occasion, External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar said, “I am delighted to join this ceremony of handing over 10 locomotive to Bangladesh. I am glad to know that Parcel and container trains have been started between both the countries. This will open up new opportunities for our businesses. I am happy to note that movement of trade by rail have been ensured. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the supply of essentials particularly in the holy month of Ramadan were ensured.” He further 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.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry Shri Piyush Goyal said, “It gives me immense pleasure to hand over 10 broad gauge locomotives for the use of Bangladesh Railways. These locomotives will be useful in handling the on-going freight train operations between India & Bangladesh. To ensure the usability of these locos in Bangladesh, they have been modified. We have been huge strides forward in our respective efforts at achieving development & growth. India & Bangladesh have come a long way in the last few years. Our bilateral relationship today is at its very best. Our neighbourhood policy follows PM Shri Narendra Modi ji’s vision of Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas. The leadership of both, India & Bangladesh, are committed to reviving the pre-1965 railway connection between the two countries. Out of the 7 rail links that existed then, 4 are functional now. To further strengthen rail connectivity in the region, one new rail link, between Agartala in India and Akhaura in Bangladesh is being constructed & finance under Grant Assistance of India. During COVID-19, both Railways have shown exemplary foresight in managing the crisis and maintained the supply chain by stepping up transportation of essential commodities. Parcel train and container train services have been introduced via Benapole in Bangladesh. Both these services have already started in the month of July. These have enabled us to move a wide range of products from both sides. Railways have ensured that the two countries can continue our bilateral trade without any disruption & health risk. Both Railways are ensuring a better future for the people.”During his address, on behalf of the Indian Railways, Shri Piyush Goyal also committed complete, unstinted & unlimited support to Bangladesh in its development of Bangladesh rail network. He 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.