Bus already plies, and now in 3 months time, trains will run to the Bangladesh capital. Initially, the trains will stop 35 km short of Dhaka at Joydebpur since this length doesn’t yet have broad gauge line.
Gede this side and Darshana across the border are the stations where respective customs and immigration checks will take place. At present, several pairs of local EMU trains run from Sealdah to Gede everyday.
A good 100 minutes from Sealdah on main line is Ranaghat Junction, from where the branches go to Santipur, Bongaon, Krishnanagar (on way to Lalgola and beyond) and Gede. Gede is just about 117 km from Sealdah.
Looking at the schematic above (taken from TT), it is clear the train route is more in length in Bangladesh than India, and it’s almost like a half-loop from Kolkata to Dhaka.
The total length is 330 km and journeying is likely to take 8 hours in addition to time it would take for mandatory clearances at the border.
Though train journey is usually more comfortable than traveling by road, it’s early to say if the former will turn out more popular.
The chance is bus operators will see dwindling numbers, since already the direct bus service starting from Ultadanga is suffering because of shuttle service from Esplanade to the border and similar service thereafter from across the border to Dhaka.
There is one difference between train and bus route. Buses ply along NH-34/35 via Petrapole-Benapole to enter Bangladesh, while the train route is further north.
Meanwhile, as Eastern Railway is gearing up to start direct rain service, necessary clearance from the central government is still awaited. Security is a big concern, what with blasts recently occurring in Samjhauta Express from Delhi, leading to tragic deaths.
Related reading: Dhaka train in 3 months