A trial run of the first freight train on the Bangladesh-India route ended at the west end of Bangabandhu Multipurpose Bridge in Sirajganj yesterday around 1:30am.
Carrying 1,350 tonnes of imported goods, mostly dairy feed and fly ash, in 30 wagons, the train started off from Kolkata's Katapur container terminal on April 3 at 9:00am.
It reached Darshana Railway Station at about 4:30pm on Wednesday, swapped the Indian engine for a Bangladeshi one and completed customs procedures before continuing to move on. It reached Ishwardi Railway Station around 8:30pm.
The goods were unloaded onto trucks by the importers as the bridge cannot support more than what a passenger train weighs, said Ashim Kumar Talukder, divisional manager of Pakshey division, one of the two wings of Bangladesh Railway (West).
This test run was monitored to detect problems, he told The Daily Star.
The train operator, Md Samsur Rahman, said he faced no problem and was hopeful of smoothly running services on this route.
Representatives of the importers, AR Agro and Srinibash Firms, said they had saved a lot of time and cost through the direct service.
The Container Corporation of India and Container Company of Bangladesh Ltd signed a preliminary agreement over facilitating greater cooperation in freight operations between the two countries during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to New Delhi in April last year.
The service may go on to have a major cost impact on the $6-billion bilateral trade, which is currently dominated by non-containerised road cargo -- mostly through the Benapole-Petrapole border, according to Indian newspaper The Hindu Business Line.