Although six months have passed since launching ‘Bandhan Express’, a passenger train on Khulna-Kolkata route, it has failed to attract passengers that much for various reasons, including customs complexities on Indian side.
The commuters who travel to India from Bangladesh by train said high ticket prices and ‘harassments’ by customs officials on Indian side are the main reasons behind ‘its failure to attract passengers’.
The ‘Bandhan Express’ was inaugurated on November 16 last year in a bid to ease communication between the two neighbouring countries. On the first day of its opening, the train left Khulna from Kolkata Terminal Station with 35 passengers, which reached the Khulna Railway Station after five hours and fifteen minutes of journey, reports UNB.
Of the 53 passengers, 34 were Bangladeshis while the rest were Indians.
Besides, the same train left Kolkata with 253 passengers for Khulna on the opening day.
While talking to reporters, Asadul Islam, a Honours student of Khulna Govt. Brajalal College, who traveled to Kolkata from Khulna on Thursday last, said, “The service of ‘Bandhan Express’ is good but most of its seats remained vacant. It has not been popular yet among passengers due to complexities in having customs clearances on the Indian side.”
Chanchal Biswas, a private company executive, said, “Though the journey by the train is comfortable but passengers seem less interested to use it due to its higher ticket fare.”
On April 5, 86 passengers came to Khulna from Kolkata by the train while it left for Kolkata with 115 passengers.
There are 456 seats in the train. The fare of air-conditioned cabin is Tk 2000 while air-conditioned chair Tk 1500 with travel tax. The train runs two days a week and takes only four and half hours to reach Kolkata from Khulna as the distance is around 177 kilometres.
Manik Chandra Sarker, Khulna Station Master, said the service of ‘Bandhan Express’ is fairly good but he could not clarify the reason behind the poor number of passengers using the train.
He claimed that the ticket fare is reasonable.