Passengers of Maitri Express will now enjoy full air-condition facilities while availing the Dhaka-Kolkata train service from today (Friday).
The upgraded train service is being launched in both the countries on the occasion of the Pahela Baishakh, first day of the Bangla calendar year.
Railway Minister Mohammad Mojibul Hoque will inaugurate the new train service at 7am at Cantonment station.
A Bangladesh Railway (BR) official said from Friday, the train service will be upgraded to international standard with more comforts provided to passengers.
He said as the trains nowadays run to almost its full passenger capacity, three more bogies have also been added to the train on the same occasion.
According to the BR, Maitri Express had passenger capacity of 418 which is being increased to 456 after adding three more bogies. Earlier, the train used to run with seven bogies.
Bangladesh and Indian railways re-introduced the first cross-border passenger train service connecting two cities of Dhaka and Kolkata in 2008 after more than 40 years.
Initially, the service was available twice a week. But due to high demand, the train now runs four days a week.
BR sources said the train is now running with almost 95 per cent passengers and its popularity has increased due to reduction of travel time and border- related hassles.
However, a source said among the passengers, 90 per cent occupancy of the train is by Bangladeshis and the rest by Indians. Very few foreign nationals avail this cross-border train service.
Officials said due to significant cut in travel time of Maitri Express and visa-related hassle, the service is getting more popular than road transport.
The Maitri Express used to run in 13 hours but now the time has been reduced to eight hours 25 minutes due mainly to reduction of border-related formalities.
The Customs authorities of both the sides agreed to complete formalities within one and a half hours.
BR officials said the new facility will increase earnings of both the railway authorities despite the fact that fares of AC seat (berth) and AC chair will remain the same.
Since launching, ticket of AC seat has been fixed at US $20 and AC chair at $12.
The earnings are being shared by Bangladesh to the extent of 75 per cent and 25 per cent by India based on mileage between the two cities.