The Bandhan Express train, which will operate between the eastern Indian city of Kolkata and Bangladesh's industrial city of Khulna, was flagged off by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladeshi Premier Sheikh Hasina from Delhi and Dhaka, respectively, via video-conferencing.
"The bridges worth $ 100 million will improve railway connectivity in Bangladesh", Mr Modi said. On the occasion, Narendra Modi said the ties of friendship between India and Bangladesh have further strengthened.
Modi said the relations between the leaders of the neighbouring countries should be like the true meaning of the word "neighbour" and they should speak to each other and visit each other whenever they feel like and no protocol should come in the way.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, PM's Economic Affairs Adviser Dr Moshiur Rahman, PM's Political Affairs Adviser HT Imam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Indian High Commissioner (Ambassador) to Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla, and secretaries concerned were present at Ganobhaban.
"We're ready to cooperate with India and other countries in the immediate neighbourhood for creating a "peace area" in South Asia where we can live together", she said.
Hasina too expressed hope for more such initiatives for increasing rail link and connectivity between the two countries.
"Whenever we talk of connectivity, I am always reminded of the vision to revive the pre-1965 connectivity".
In Kolkata, Chief Minister Banerjee said: "This is a huge gain for passenger convenience".
She said it was yet another happy occasion in Bangladesh-India relations. Bandhan express will strengthen the relationship.
While the train had an inaugural run on Thursday, the commercial service will begin November 16. It will start from Kolkata at 6:00am and reach Khulna at 1:00pm.
It will be the first service on the route in 52 years. The train will have 156 seats.
The 982.20m long and 7m width Bhairab Railway Bridge was built at a cost of 5.67bn taka, with construction beginning in 2013. India's Ircon-Afcons joint venture constructed the bridge which has both dual gauge and broad-gauge facilities. They also inaugurated the worldwide rail passenger terminus at Chitpur in Kolkata and launched an end-to-end immigration and customs services for the Maitree Express, which was launched in April 2008 to re-establish the pre-Partition era rail link between Kolkata and Dhaka.
The 11-hour Kolkata-Dhaka journey via Maitree Express has two stops for immigration checking - one at Gede (Nadia) in India and the other at Dorshona in Bangladesh.
The bridge over the Titas was built by Indian company Gammon-Flcl Consortium.
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