Rail Transit: Interconnection will change

Published at : 27 June 2024, 04:00 pm
Rail Transit: Interconnection will change

Indian trains will run through Bangladesh. Recently, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the two countries. As a result of this, the Bangladesh Railway has said that the initiative is being taken to build a new railway within Bangladesh. Apart from this, initiatives are being taken to increase the capacity of the railways on the routes on which Indian trains will run. The existing railway should also be renovated.

Bangladesh will benefit economically if rail transit is started. However, some analysts of international relations have also expressed concern about security concerns. Communication experts suggest conducting a thorough survey. 

However, some analysts of international relations have also expressed concern about security concerns. And communication experts suggest conducting a thorough survey. It will be understood after the survey how many kilometers of railways need to be built, where to increase capacity, where to reform, etc.

"A comprehensive survey is needed for the railway infrastructure that India wants to build within Bangladesh. This will show how usable this railway is, how much surplus there is, and how much surplus we can use in the future," said professor Dr. Shamsul Haque, a communication sector expert at the Bangladesh University of Engineering (BUET).

Bangladesh Railway officials said that Indian trains will enter Bangladesh through a total of 12 routes. Initiatives are being taken to increase capacity, mainly by constructing and renovating new railways on these routes. However, the issue of financing the construction of these railways has not yet been clarified by India and Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has given transit to India before. The first 'Inland Maritime Transit and Trade' protocol was signed in 1972. Bangladesh signed an agreement to join the Trans-Asian Railway in 2007. The railway was originally intended to connect India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal. At that time, it is said that Myanmar and China will be connected to this railway in due course. Keeping this rail network in mind, the Padma Bridge rail link and the railway up to Cox's Bazar were constructed. However, there is no possibility of connecting China and Myanmar with this railway soon. It is now limited to only Bangladesh and India.

Nepal and Bhutan signed transit agreements with Bangladesh in 1976 and 1984, respectively. But it did not work, as Bangladeshi freight vehicles could not move using Indian territory. Railway officials have commented that new opportunities have arisen in trade with Nepal and Bhutan after the signing of inter-country agreements during the Prime Minister's visit to India.

"When you are talking about BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), Trans Asian Network, and Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Sub-Regional Connectivity (BBIN), that network or route uses only one country route. Implementation is not possible. We are saying that during the implementation of the agreement, the Indian train will go from Gede station to Haldibari, Dalgao, via Darshana, Abdulpur, and Chilahati. Later, on our request, we got permission to run the railway up to the Hasimara border in the Alipurduar district of West Bengal. We will be able to go closer to the border of Bhutan by this," Humayun Kabir, secretary of the Ministry of Railways, told the Khaborer Kagoj.

"The railway will run through Biral-Radhikapur to Yogabani in India, from there to the Biratnagar border in Nepal. Stones from Nepal are coming to Bangladesh through this route. If we can operate freight rail on this route, Bangladesh will earn more revenue. According to the agreement, we will be able to use the existing railways inones from Nepal are coming to Bangladesh through this route.  India," he added.

"No matter which freight or passenger train runs from India, we will get revenue. The Tariff Commission will fix a fare. It will benefit the state financially. There is no opportunity to unilaterally profit here. However, we get seven-eight times more profit in freight trains than in passenger trains," Sardar Shahadat Ali, the Director General of Railways, told the Khaborer Kagoj.

Some of the international relations analysts fear that the security of Bangladesh will be disrupted due to the provision of rail transit. They fear that India may want to use this route into Bangladesh to quell separatist movements in the northeastern states. For this reason, Bangladesh may be at risk of security.

"The security threat will largely depend on the extent to which Bangladesh can control it after giving transit. If Bangladesh does not have proper control over whether the transit is only about the transportation of goods or whether anything else is being brought or taken on the train, then there can be a  problem," said former Ambassador M. Humayun Kabir, Director General of the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute.