Cross-border partnership: India hands over 10 diesel locomotives to Bangladesh

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 27, 2020

India on Monday handed over ten Broad Gauge diesel-based locomotives to Bangladesh that have a residual life of at least 28 years. These are 3,300 Horse-Power locomotives that can run at a speed of 120 km/hr.

These ten locomotives are expected to increase the use of the rail sector. The ten locomotives, estimated to cost ₹60 crore, are funded by Ministry of External Affairs, India, and are a part of commitment made last year between India and Bangladesh.

The two countries introduced movement of container and parcel trains in July. Both sides saw the highest-ever exchange of freight trains in June, when 103 freight trains were used to carry essential commodities and raw materials. In Covid-19 times, railway is the best mode of transport, said Piyush Goyal, Railway Minister, while speaking at the handover ceremony. In July (so far), movement of goods in India through rail mode has touched over 90 per of the cargo moved in the same time last year.

In 1996, Indian Railways had exported ten metre gauge locomotives from its Varanasi-based production unit — Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) — to Bangladesh. About 40 Broad Gauge locomotives were exported over the years from 2001 to 2014. In 2016-17, India also exported 120 passenger coaches.

Promoting trade, connectivity

The bilateral rail cooperation is important to promote trade and connectivity and in boosting the economic partnership, said officials. Currently, there are four operational rail links between India and Bangladesh, which connect West Bengal (India’s Eastern state) with Bangladesh. They include Petrapole-Benapole, Gede–Darshana, and Radhikapur–Birol.

Two passenger trains also operate between the two countries, whose movement has been temporarily suspended due to the pandemic. A total of 17 railway sector projects are part of letter of credit (LoC) assistance extended by India to Bangladesh, with a commitment of $2.44 billion. India has offered all LoCs to Bangladesh at a rate of interest of one per cent a year, which have to be repaid over 20 years with a moratorium for five years.

Of these 17 railway sector projects, nine have been successfully completed, including supply of broad and metre gauge locomotives, flat wagons, railway bridges and signaling equipment. Railway projects under implementation using lower cost funding (through letter of credit) include - Kulaura-Shahbazpur railway line costing $78 million is likely to be completed by end of this year; and Khulna-Mongla railway line project worth $389 million (along with the railway bridge) which is likely to be completed by June 2021.

Moreover, cross-border rail link of 12 km is being built under Grant-in-Aid between Agartala and Akhaura town on the Dhaka-Chittagong trunk line. This is expected to be completed by March 2021 and will further enhance freight and passenger connectivity between India and north eastern states.

Published on July 27, 2020

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