India, Bangladesh launch new trans-border cargo train route

A train carrying 50 containers of fast-moving consumer goods or FMCG and fabrics took just three and a half hours to reach Benapole in Jashore from Kolkata using the route last Sunday.

MGH Logistics, a concern of MGH Group in Bangladesh, facilitated the trade.

Exporters from the Indian side were Procter and Gamble, Arvind Ltd and Vardhaman Textiles Ltd.

“Initially, we will try to run one train a week. If the demand rises, we will do more,” said Subash Deb, a director of MGH Group.

The advantage of containerisation is that any exporter can move even one container of 20 tonnes, and it is possible to aggregate traffic of various exporters and send by one train, MGH said in a statement.

Containerisation has other benefits too, such as minimal customs checks at borders as well as safety and security of cargo.

Majority of the trade between India and Bangladesh takes place through the Benapole-Petrapole border, making it a congested point. A truck would often have to wait for 12 hours or more at each side of the border, pushing transportation cost up heavily.

The Container Corporation of India Ltd and Bangladesh Container Company Ltd had signed a memorandum of understanding to start the train services in 2017. In 2018, a container train arrived in Bangladesh through Gede-Darshana as a trial, but the movement was not regular.

The Indian High Commission in Bangladesh said in a statement on Facebook that a permanent container train service, apart from freight and parcel trains, will boost India-Bangladesh trade.