Dhaka, April 14 (IANS) The fully-airconditioned and upgraded Dhaka-Kolkata Maitree Express was inaugurated in the Bangladesh capital on Friday, the first day of the Bangla New Year.
The Indian High Commission in Dhaka said they are working to boost comfort for passengers and have planned to speed up customs and immigration clearance this year.
"This will attend to a long-standing grievance of passengers travelling on the Maitree Express, who have to get down, both at Darshana and Gede, during the journey," Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Friday.
The journey time will come down to about six hours from nine hours now.
Alongwith Bangladesh Railways Minister Mazibul Hoque, Shringla inaugurated the Dhaka-Kolkata Maitree Express.
The Maitree train was launched on Pahela Baishakh in 2008 with once-a-week service. With its increased popularity, it now runs four days a week, bdnews24 reported.
A total of 456 passengers will now be able to travel in the air-conditioned coaches, with four being first-class.
The coaches have been manufactured in India, using the latest technology and have been procured by the government of Bangladesh under the first Line of Credit rolled out in 2O11.
In 2015-16 (April to March), 98,322 passengers used the Maitree Express service. The number of passengers grew 17 per cent year-on-year to 115,061 in 2016-17.
On April 8, Bangladesh and India flagged off the trial run of the Khulna-Kolkata Express during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India, and also formally inaugurated the fourth railway link between the two countries.
"We hope to start the regular service on the Khulna-Kolkata route this year," Shringla said.
He said India-Bangladesh relations have scaled "new heights". "We hope that this good relationship will continue."