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Rail Links Resume After 42 Years
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An Indian train arrived in Bangladesh Sunday on the first trial run before a planned resumption of rail services suspended some 42 years ago.

Bangladesh hopes regular passenger train services will be launched by mid-August to link its capital Dhaka to Kolkata, capital of India's West Bengal state 375 km away.

The train carrying 30 officials from Kolkata was met by Bangladesh railway officials at Darshana, a border entry point.

The train, called "Moitree" (Friendship), reached its destination at Cantonment Station in Dhaka in late afternoon.

"Bangladesh has taken enough security measures for the Indian trial train, so that no one can cause any obstacle in efforts to consolidate ties between our two countries," said A.T.M. lsmail, a Bangladesh communications ministry official.

A similar Samjhauta (Friendship) Express travels between India and Pakistan and 68 people were killed in a bomb attack on the New Delhi-Lahore train in February.

The train service between India and Bangladesh was suspended after the 1965 war between India and Pakistan, when Bangladesh was Pakistan's eastern province. The service was not restored even after Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan in 1971.

E.A. Ahamed, leader of the Indian officials on Sunday's trial train service, said: "We are very hopeful for success of this service if launched. The attitude of the people here is very friendly."

Bangladesh will soon send a train to Kolkata on a similar trial run, before finalizing the service, he said.

Security, immigration and customs arrangements crucial for such a cross-border service are to be drawn up at a two-day meeting between the countries' officials this week.

There are separate direct bus services linking Dhaka with Kolkata and Agartala, capital of India's northeastern Tripura state.

Officials said nearly 3,000 people from the two countries legally travel across the borders daily.

(China Daily via agencies July 9, 2007)

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