The Chief Minister of the Indian state of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, has hailed it a victory of diaspora efforts as Whitechapel tube station in east London got signage in the Bengali language.
The area of London largely inhabited by Bengalis, from Bangladesh and also India, is renowned for its curry restaurants. Now, it has become the only place in the British capital to also greet people in both English and Bengali.
Banerjee tweeted: “Proud to note that the London Tube Rail has accepted Bengali as a language of signage at Whitechapel Station, signifying the increasing global importance & strength of the 1000-year-old language Bengali.
“It underlines that the diaspora should work together in common cultural directions. It is a victory of our culture and heritage.”
The local Tower Hamlets Council has funded dual language signs in English and Bengali outside and throughout the station as a recognition of Bengali and Bangladeshi contributions to the city. Transport for London (TfL) began installing the signs earlier this month and is expecting them all to be in place by the end of April.
The improvements to Whitechapel station are part of the introduction of the Elizabeth line which has two stations in Tower Hamlets – Whitechapel and Canary Wharf. The Elizabeth line is due to open in the first half of this year and will mean people travelling from Whitechapel can get a direct train through central London to Paddington in just 15 minutes.
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John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “Whitechapel is one of London’s most famous places and we are now creating a new history with developments including the Elizabeth Line and renovating the former Royal London Hospital building.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan added: “Whitechapel is an iconic part of the city which will soon see the arrival of a new London icon – the Elizabeth line. Once open, passengers will be able to travel from Whitechapel station to Paddington in just 15 minutes.
“The new line is one of the world’s most advanced railways and will play a crucial role in the city’s recovery from the pandemic, transforming travel across London and the South East.”