The railways authorities are planning to start construction works of the Bangabandhu Railway Bridge over the river Jamuna in 2020 to increase the speed and load capacity of trains running between north-western and south-western districts and rest of the country.
Bangladesh Railway is struggling to run trains on Joydebpur-Ishwardi section through the existing rail track on Bangabandhu Bridge.
All trains require to wait for at least half an hour at the West and East sides of the Bangabandhu Bridge when any train passes as the seven kilometre bridge that has a single line.
Trains run with maximum speed of 20 kmph on the bridge, officials added.
The railways minister Nurul Islam Sujan told New Age on November 5 during a visit to the project site that construction works of the bridge would start from March 2020.
The project director Quamrul Ahsan said the construction work would complete by March 2024.
Nurul Islam Sujan also said they had taken the project to increase the speed of trains from the north-western districts to the rest of the country as trains need to wait long in signals to give pass any train on the Bangabandhu Bridge.
He also said the project would also boost up local and foreign commercial activities.
Under the Bangabandhu Railway Bridge Construction Project, a 4.8-kilometre long dual gauge and double line railway bridge will be constructed at 300 metre upstream of the Bangabandhu Bridge.
The bridge would have total 30km track including the main, loop and yard lines.
According to railway, the estimated project cost was Tk 9,734.07 crore of which Japan International Cooperation Agency would give Tk 7,724.32 crore as project aid and the government of Bangladesh would fund Tk 2,009.75 crore.
The railways minister said at first they planned for constructing a concrete bridge while currently they were considering for a steel bridge on the alignment for almost double longevity.
The change might increase the project cost, he added.
Officials said at present railway operates 42 trains in Joydebpur-Ishwardi section through the Bangabandhu Bridge.
Railway’s divisional transportation officer for Paksey Abdullah Al Mamun told New Age on Friday that railway had the capacity for running maximum 22 trains on the section due to block system by allowing only one train to run between the two stations through the bridge.
The project was approved at a meeting of the executive committee of the National Economic Council on December 6, 2016 with the timeline between July 1 2016 and December 31, 2023.
Bangladesh Railway, executing agency of the project, signed a contract with consultant organisations — Oriental Consultants Global Company Limited and Chodai Company Limited of Japan and Development Design Consultants Limited of Bangladesh in association with ACE Consultants Limited of Bangladesh —for detailed design, bid assistance and construction supervision on March 2, 2017 who started to work 13 days later.
According to a report on the consultant services, the project is located on the rail route between Dhaka and Ishwardi which is a part of a major sub regional and trans-Asian railway corridor and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation - BIMSTEC railway network.
It also said that Bangladesh has the potential to become the transport and transhipment centre for the sub regional border of India, Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal.
Facilities for electric traction and gas transmission line connection would be kept for future use on the railway bridge, officials added.
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