Dhaka: Bangladesh Railway (BR) is preparing for movement of Indian goods trains right up to the outskirts of the national capital, in a move that would help traders in both countries.
Goods worth $2 billion are exchanged annually among the South Asian neighbours. Taking the containers deep inside country, rather than off-loading them on the border, would lower import costs for Bangladesh.
BR Director General Belayet Hossain told New Age newspaper that they were working round-the-clock for the operation of Indian container trains till Gazipur, some 35 km from the capital.
Bangladesh, which allows Indian good trains up to some areas in the north, "is facing India`s pressure" to allow container trains up to Gazipur by crossing the Jamuna Bridge, the newspaper said.
BR would seek cabinet approval after a nod from a railway inspection body, which looks after the security of railway and railway services.
The neighbours are preparing for closer cooperation on the rail front with Dhaka deciding to join the Asian rail network that connects with Bulgaria in Europe and Bangkok in Southeast Asia.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, due in New Delhi for talks next month, is in touch with Indian Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on a number of proposals.
Dhaka, which has allowed passenger trains from India since 2008, was in the past opposed to Indian container trains crossing the Jamuna bridge for the safety of the bridge.
But the communications ministry has now found that movement of container trains on the bridge at a low speed would not cause any harm.
Communications Minister Abul Hossain told the newspaper that the bridge which developed cracks would not face any problems if containers trains cross the bridge at a low speed.
"The Bangladesh Railway will monitor the speed," the minister said.
Delhi has since 2007 requested Dhaka to allow Indian container trains through the bridge so that industrial goods and raw materials could be carried directly to Gazipur.