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India Bangladesh ease Border Processing for International Service

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India and Bangladesh inaugurate their Customs and Immigration facilities at Kolkata International Station and Dhaka Cantonment Station respectively, for the processing of international passengers thus discontinuing the practice of requiring everyone to get off the train with their bag and baggage twice (at Gede and Darshana) for border formalities). This immediately lopped off almost three hours from the time-tabled running time between the origin and the destination. Passengers are now requested to arrive two hours before departure at the originating station.

 

This also enabled the introduction of the second service to Bangladesh to Khulna (via Jessore using the Benapole-Petrapole border checkposts) from Kolkata with no border inspection at the border in India. There is single border processing stop at Benapole in Bangladesh since they don't have their international processing facility up and running in Khulna yet.

 

For those into consists scheduling - Both India and Bangladesh contribute one consist each, both with identical accommodations. Both consist of four AC Chair Cars (72 seater), four AC I Sleepers (seating in compartments ~30 seats) and two Luggage/Guard/Generator Cars. They are cars manufactured in India under license from Alstom for their so called LHB (Linke Hofmann Busch) design capable of 200kph, currently certified for 160kph, but currently used on this route to run no faster than100kph.

 

The service is powered in both Bangladesh and India by Alco Century derivatives manufacture in India, usually IR Class WDM-3A and their Bangladeshi equivalent. The Indian engine takes the train from Kolkata to Darshana in Bangladesh where it is swapped out for a Bangladesh Railway engine. The Indian engine is from the Bardhaman Shed of the Eastern Railway. The Indian consist is from the Howrah passenger shed of Eastern Railway,

 

Oddly enough, if the engine change was at Gede instead of Darshana, IR could use electric traction, since the line is electrified literally to within a few hundred feet of the border. But Darshana has more storage space and a trip shed for the locos, unlike Gede which has only EMU service to Kolkata and hence normally handles no locomotives at all.

 

The normal schedule is for an 8am-ish departure and a 4pm-ish arrival +/- half hour of time zone difference between the two countries. Both consists operate two round trips between Kolkata and Dhaka each week thus operating a four times a week service. In addition the Indian consist is used on one day for a round trip to Khulna in Bangladesh. There is a plan to increase the frequency to Dhaka to 5 times a week and Khulna to twice a week, which does not require any additional equipment. Beyond that it will require at least a partial use of one more consist to bring the Dhaka service to daily.

 

The next big step, with completion of the dual gauge connection to Akahura and thence to Agartala in Northeast India would be to start running sealed trains from Kolkata to Agartala through Bangladesh reducing the travel time to a third of what it is today to do the same trip entirely through Indian territory. Bangladesh appears to be keenly interested in such trains, both passenger in freight, since it will be a very good source of stable transit income.

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Freight there is quite a bit and has existed for much longer. There are also many more border crossing points for freight and more coming on line.

 

Passenger, there are only two trains active at present, with a third coming within a year. The first one started ten or so years back between Kolkata and Dhaka and is four times a week now soon to go to five. The second one, from Kolkata to Khulna started last year and is currently weekly. The third one from Kolkata to Rajshahi is to start within a year. And frequencies are supposed to progressively go up as Bangladesh brings more customs processing capacity on line.

 

All trains use a standard consist of eight AC passenger cars - four Coaches and four First Class plus two service cars. Those trains generally run full these days.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

Edited by jis

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How invasive are the customs checks? Or is it just bureaucratic rigmarole?

Bags, can be very much. Human beings, not much. Mostly lot of questions and document checking as I understand it.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

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Just to give you some sense each train has capacity of about 120 First Class (about 30 per car, give or take) and 240 Chair Car (60 per car, give or take). So call it 360.

They require passengers to arrive at the station of origin 2 hours ahead of departure to go through border and security processing. usually they are done well before the scheduled departure. They have may 4 - 6 desks for processing, so assuming 6 that is 60 per agent. Assuming that they take all of the 120 mins that would suggest that most get a quick pass. Even if it is just 4 agents still it is not excruciatingly slow.

 

And keep in mind for foreigners they also process Visa on Entry too, at the arrival end, and verify eligibility for it at the departure end.

 

These days, specially after border inspection was moved to origin and destination station from the border checkposts, thus reducing the running time by about 2.5 hours, and converting the train to fully air-conditioned, generally they run so full that it is unsafe to wait until the last day to get a ticket. Now there is a 5 min service stop at the Indian border station Gede to change crew to take it across the border, and there is a 20 min stop at the Bangladesh border station Darshana to change engines from Indian to Bangladeshi or vice versa

 

The engine is changed at Darshana and not at Gede because Darshana already has a trip shed for freight trains, and other Bangladeshi service. Gede does not have trip shed because all domestic service to Gede uses EMUs. No locomotive ventures there for regular passenger service. The last electrification post is a mere 200 yards from the actual border! The only locomotives that go there are for freight and they have always been exchanged at Darshana ever since the border post reopened for freight.

 

One oddity is that the clientele for the Bangladesh service from India is basically middle class and upper middle class, who demanded fully air-conditioned train for both the Maitree Express (Kolkata Dhaka) and Bandhan Express (Kolkata - Khulna). In contrast the Samjhauta Express (Delhi - Atari - Wagah - Lahore), and Thar Express (Jodhpur - Munabao - Zero Point(Kokhropar) - Karachi) service to Pakistan is almost entirely lower class. Both those trains are non-airconditioned 3-Tier Sleepers (except one to three AC 3-tier Sleeper on Samjhauta link express between Delhi and Atari). Also in case of Pakistan there is actually a change of trains involved at the border.

Edited by jis

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So is that tourist or business traffic? I am actually interested.

 

BTW PS I didn't realize that Atari was Indian!!! (obviously pleasing the Mr. Everything is Indian on the beeb!)

Between India and Bangladesh it is mostly family and business travel. There is a smattering of foreign tourists who are starting to use this since they have actually operationalized the Visa on Arrival by rail, or were about to. I am not sure that it has happened yet coming to think of it. In the past VoA was restricted to air travel, but they were talking of extending it to rail travel at land border crossings. It probably is still better to have a visa in hand just in case. Both countries quite freely give multiple entry tourist visas.

 

BTW, purchasing tickets used to be a chore since you had to go to a designated station window to do so. Recently India has added this train to its IRCTC system, so after you have jumped through the hoops that Eddie (caravanman) has described elsewhere to register with IRCTC, you can get round trip ticket over the internet. Bangladesh has intentions to do the same but is not there yet. So you can get a KOAA - DAKA - KOAA ticket on the internet, but not a DAKA - KOAA - DAKA ticket until Bangladesh gets their end on the internet.

 

Atari or Attari is the Indian border checkpost station between Amritsar and Lahore. The corresponding Pakistani station is Wagah. Currently you have to change trains at Attari to travel cross-border there. Pakistan runs a Samjhauta Link Express between Lahore and Attari, and India runs the Samjhauta Express between Attari and Delhi Jn.

Edited by jis

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So is that tourist or business traffic? I am actually interested.

 

BTW PS I didn't realize that Atari was Indian!!! (obviously pleasing the Mr. Everything is Indian on the beeb!)

Between India and Bangladesh it is mostly family and business travel. There is a smattering of foreign tourists who are starting to use this since they have actually operationalized the Visa on Arrival by rail, or were about to. I am not sure that it has happened yet coming to think of it. In the past VoA was restricted to air travel, but they were talking of extending it to rail travel at land border crossings. It probably is still better to have a visa in hand just in case. Both countries quite freely give multiple entry tourist visas.

 

BTW, purchasing tickets used to be a chore since you had to go to a designated station window to do so. Recently India has added this train to its IRCTC system, so after you have jumped through the hoops that Eddie (caravanman) has described elsewhere to register with IRCTC, you can get round trip ticket over the internet. Bangladesh has intentions to do the same but is not there yet. So you can get a KOAA - DAKA - KOAA ticket on the internet, but not a DAKA - KOAA - DAKA ticket until Bangladesh gets their end on the internet.

 

Atari or Attari is the Indian border checkpost station between Amritsar and Lahore. The corresponding Pakistani station is Wagah. Currently you have to change trains at Attari tot ravel cross-border there. Pakistan runs a Samjhauta Link Express between Lahore and Attari, and India runs the Samjhauta Express between Attari and Delhi Jn.

 

 

Thanks! I noticed he'd posted and I haven't had a chance to read his reports (and I'm off to Europe with a few train rides myself this weekend).

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Have fun! I am getting my canonical Orlando - Alexandria - Orlando ride on the Silver Meteor for the NARP Annual shindig in Alexandria.

Edited by jis

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