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India’s Frontier Railways – #1/3 – The Maitree Express



India’s Frontier Railways Three-part series about trains crossing borders in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan, reconnecting families, cultures and history

 Maitree Express

This first episode observes the Maitree Express, the first passenger train to run between India and Bangladesh since the 1971 war of independence with Pakistan. Former freedom fighter Amirul plays announcements and religious tapes while taking the 12-hour, 392km journey. The programme also charts 16-year-old Abdullah who ran away from home, and now sells newspapers on Dhaka’s trains and platforms in the hope of a better future, and Aalo who supports his family by selling chocolates to passengers.

 Last Train in Nepal

In the second episode we observe a train as it crosses the border between India and Nepal along a line that runs for 20 miles from the town of Janakpur to the Indian junction of Jaynagar. The film reveals how the line is now under threat of closure following a starvation of funds from the Indian government, which has left the train and the track in a state of disrepair. Derailments have become commonplace, but it is a lifeline for many members of the community including Regina who makes a living as a smuggler of small household goods and Aarman who is a ticket collector.

 Samjhauta Express

This episode charts the journey of the Samjhauta Express, which crosses the border from India to Pakistan. Passengers include 17-year-old Bilal and his father who are seeking medical treatment in India, along with hockey champion Rahat Khan who is travelling to play an international match. The film also charts the special train journeys laid on annually – amid security concerns – to the home town of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, to mark his birthday.

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