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BD-Nepal rail transit opens up again

Bangladesh and Nepal has been opened up again as India has allowed using its Singhabad rail line for bilateral trading, railway officials said.

They said both the countries can now use rail transit through Singhabad of Indian territory for goods trading as per a protocol signed under overland transit traffic between Bangladesh and Nepal during the Indian Prime Minister's recent visit to Dhaka.

They said Bangladesh Railway (BR) has long been requesting the Indian railway to allow its Rohonpur-Singhabad metre gauge rail line for bilateral trade with the landlocked Himalayan country since Birol-Radhikapur rail transit was suspended.

As per an earlier protocol signed in 1978, Bangladesh had been using Birol- Radhikapur rail route for trading goods with Nepal. The transit facility was suspended in 2005 after India upgraded its rail line to broad gauge from metre gauge.

The latest agreement was signed in the light of Birol-Radhikapur rail route.

"With the latest agreement, we can now trade goods with Nepal through Singhabad uninterrupted," said a railway official.

He said since the transit through Birol-Radhikapur rail route was stopped due to line mismatch, it has been difficult for Bangladesh to maintain trade with Nepal for not getting permission from India to use alternate metre gauge route.

The official said many exporters had sought permission from Indian rail authority for trading several times but faced refusal most of the times.

After a long effort, the Indian railway authority gave Bangladesh permission to trade 25,000 tonnes of fertiliser only with Nepal in last July.

"As the capacity of a train is very low, an exporter has to take Indian permission every time to trade fertiliser," said the official adding that the railway has been managed to dispatch half of the targeted goods by September.

He said to enjoy the new transit, the BR has to take some initiatives to improve the capacity of both Bangladesh and Indian sides.

BR has already taken steps to upgrade its line to broad gauge up to Birol to match with the line of the Indian side, he added.
Source - The Financial Express 

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