KOLKATA: India is keen on exporting more goods by rail to Bangladesh once infrastructure improves across the border. As of now, a little less than 4 rakes of freight moves across the Indo-Bangla border every day on an average.
At around 2,800 tonnes per rake, this is a mere 9,800 tonnes per day. Most of this moves through Gede in North 24 Parganas and Singhabad in Malda. Petrapole in North 24 Parganas handles 6-8 rakes every month.
"The goods exported to Bangladesh by rail include de-oiled cakes (used as cattle fodder), stone chips and some fly ash. In March, there was record movement through Gede when 54 rakes crossed the border. There is scope for more export by rail. Bangladesh is building a large number of bridges across rivers and requires huge quantities of stone. According to an estimate, Bangladesh would be requiring as much as 20 million tonnes of stone in the next five years.
If Bangladesh develops infrastructure, India could send five rakes of stone across the border every day for the next five years," said Mr. Deepak Jha, Chief Freight Transportation Manager, Eastern Railway.
"The tracks in Bangladesh aren't electrified and all trains use diesel locomotives. Till a few years ago, Bangladesh had trouble in handling the number of wagons that we would send up to Gede, Singhabad or Petrapole. Our rakes normally comprise 42 wagons but Bangladesh could only accommodate 30 at a time. We would have to keep the remaining 12 at our stations near the border for the next trip. This has now been resolved," an official said.
India and Bangladesh have signed agreements for the development of railway links, particularly for the movement of freight. Soon, movement of trains between Radhikapur and Birol are expected to resume. This link was suspended in 2005.