Train journeys are epic. They are fun, exotic, and beautiful and have a great way to explore the natural beauty of the countryside. If you take a train journey in India, you’ll pass through some great natural wonders like waterfalls, mustard fields, mountains, and valleys, etc. every journey from a train is just epic and an experience of a kind. Indian railways network is one of the biggest railways networks in the world.
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Now this network has started to expand and bring in some exclusive international routes to the group as well. The Indian railways have established a successful connection with neighboring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal.
At present, 3 international rail network transportations are active, and several other networks are in progress.
Let’s check out about these three networks in detail.
India – Pakistan
Transportation facilities in India and Pakistan are solely meant for tourism and commercial purposes as there are very few significant transportation links in between these two countries, mainly due to the 1947 partition. There are three basic modes of transportation between India and Pakistan: airways, roadways, and railways.
There are two trains originating from India to Pakistan- The Samjhauta Express and the Thar Link Express. Both these trains have progressed to be the most popular international train routes from India. Samjhauta express originates from Atari Junction in Amritsar and reaches its destination Lahore Junction in Pakistan. The Thar Link express originates from the Bhagat Ki Kothi railway station in Jodhpur, India, and reaches Karachi Cantonment in Pakistan.
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The Samjhauta Express or the Friendship Express runs twice a week - on Thursday and Monday between New Delhi and Atari in India, and Lahore in Pakistan. Samjhauta basically means agreement or compromise. Samjhauta was the sole railway link between India and Pakistan before the opening of the Thar Express.
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The train started its first journey on 22nd July 1976. It used to be a daily running train; however, it later turned to be a bi-weekly train in 1994. The train’s number is 14607. You can only purchase the ticket for this train offline at the Atari Junction in Amritsar. The most important document needed to purchase a ticket for the Samjhauta Express is a valid Pakistan Visa.
You must apply for it and get it approved before buying the ticket. It’s a non-negotiable condition to get a ticket. The journey starts at 11:30 am from India and reaches Lahore at 03:40 pm, covering a distance of 27 km in over 4 hours 10 minutes. The train only stops at the Wagha station in Punjab.
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Thar Link Express
The Thar Link Express is part of the international passenger train operated on a weekly basis by the Indian Railways Network. The journey of Thar Link Express starts from Bhagat Ki Kothi railway station and ends at the Munabao Junction. It runs from both ends with their numbers being 14889 and 14890 respectively.
The train doesn’t halt at any station and runs at a speed of 54 km per hour. The train covers a total distance of 325 km. Thar Link is never late as it runs in time to cover the distance of 6 hours exact. The journey starts from Bhagat Ki Kothi railway station in Jodhpur, India, and travels towards west from Balotra to Barmer to Manabao. It is where it crosses the border to arrive in Pakistan.
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It starts its journey at 01:00 am from Bhagat Ki Kothi station and reaches Munabao junction at 07:00 am. The other train origination from Munabao junction starts at 07:00 pm and reaches Bhagat Ki Kothi station at 11:50 pm. The train comprises of 9 coaches overall that includes sleeper class and SRLs.
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Thar Link Express doesn’t have any pantry car inside the train. Passengers are allowed to order food from outside and have some refreshments along with them. The train is equipped with several charging points available for mobile phones and laptops charging.
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Likewise, Samjhauta Express, passengers traveling from the Thar Link Express also require a valid and sanctioned Pakistan Visa to travel to India.
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India – Bangladesh
Railways play a major role in connecting India and Bangladesh on transportation terms. Whether it is for tourism or for commercial purpose, railways have always been in usage. India and Bangladesh have two major trains running between the countries. There are a few other rail projects in process for future, like the Chilahati-Haldibari railway connection, Agartala-Akhaura railway link, etc.
At present, the two major trains running between India and Bangladesh are the Maitree Express (the Friendship Express) and the Bandhan Express (the Bond Express). The Maitree Express started in the year 2008 and has a successful record of transportation between the two countries.
The other train is the Bandhan Express that was inaugurated in November 2017. It’s been running successfully between Kolkata and Khulna since then.
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The Maitree express runs between Kolkata and Dhaka for six days a week from either side. It takes the train around 375 kilometers to reach Dhaka from Kolkata. This railway connection was brought in the process to perk up the railway link between Kolkata and Dhaka that had been closed for 43 years. It is regarded to be the first and modern-day international passenger train running between India and Bangladesh.
The train was revamped to a positive response from people. Before the 2017 November immigration and customs were done in Kolkata and Dhaka, the train had two major stops for immigration checks; the first one is Gede (India), and the other one is Dorshona (Bangladesh).
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The train now doesn’t halt at these two stops. This decision has decreased the travel time between these two cities by 2-3 hours. It takes the Maitree express around 9 hours to reach each station. It starts at 07:10 am from Kolkata and reaches Dhaka at 04:05 pm. The whole route is filled with broad-gauge diesel locomotives.
The tickets are available offline at the Kolkata Railway Station. The passenger must have a valid and authorized Bangladesh visa to check in to this train. The train crosses between two major rivers; the Padma River over the 100 years old Hardinge Bridge and the Jamuna River over the Bangabandhu Bridge. The coaches of the train have now been turned to air-conditioned LHB coaches to enhance the travel experience.
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The express was earlier termed as Maitree Express II. Launched in November 2017 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Bandhan express originates its journey from Kolkata, halts at Dum Dum and Bangaon in India and then crosses the border at Petrapole.
It’s an international passenger train that runs between Kolkata and Khulna every week. It’s the second modern-day express link after the Maitree express to run between West Bengal and Bangladesh. It’s a fully air-conditioned train with pure LHB coaches in Red-Grey and Sky-Blue color. The coaches are manufactured in India. There are 4 executive chairs (EC), 4 AC Chair cars (CC), and 2 Generator/luggage/guard cars. Therefore, there are 10 coaches in total.
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A valid visa is necessary to check in the train. The immigration process takes place in Kolkata and Khulna. The passengers can book their tickets offline at the Kolkata railway station and Khulna railway station after the issue of passports and visa. The government has now decided to put a 3-minute halt at Jessore to have more passengers to the train.
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Apart from these four international trains, there are several train links that are in process. These trains are :
- Bhutan - The government is planning to organize a train route between Bhutan and India to initiate a railway link between the two friendly countries. This will help in building relations and transportation.
- Myanmar - A railway connection between Manipur, India, to Burma is in process. The rail route is under construction that would connect Myanmar and India on a friendly and transportation basis.
- Vietnam - The central government has carried out plans to link a railway route between Manipur and Vietnam. The construction will be carried out soon.
- China - There will be soon a high-speed railway route between New Delhi to Kunming in China for commercial purpose.
- Thailand - There will be soon a train link between Thailand and India for common passenger service.
- Malaysia - There are talks that if the railways will build the Burma route, the Indian railway system will build routes to Malaysia as well. The same process goes for Singapore as well.
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