Railway bridge over Jamuna in BD mulled for greater connectivity

Railway bridge over Jamuna in BD mulled for greater connectivity

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Dhaka – As the Bangabandhu Jamuna Bridge looks to be unable to provide smooth and speedy rail communication, the government is mulling the construction of a parallel railway bridge over the river, UNB news agency reported.
Currently, goods or passenger trains can move at the highest speed of 20 kms per hour on the Bangabandhu Bridge. There is a restriction on movement of trains on the bridge if they are overloaded.The planned railway bridge, proposed to be completed by 2023, is to catch up with the increased rail communications amid much apprehension about regional connectivity with the neighbouring countries.
Another official said the bridge would also shorten the route length for transportation of Indian goods to Chittagong Port, Dhaka, Akhaura-Agartala route, Shahbazpur-Karimganj through Birol-Radhikapur and Chilahati-Haldibari and other borders.
The official said the proposed Trans Asian railway line, which will enter from India and connect Myanmar, will also be benefited with the railway bridge on the Jamuna river.
Bangladesh Railway (BR) has already conducted a feasibility study with financial support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for undertaking this project.
“The government will build the bridge just beside the existing Bangabandhu Bridge on the Jamuna River and the process is going on well,” a BR official told UNB.
The official said the existing Bangabandhu Bridge ‘is not quite suitable for plying trains’ and it is essential to build a separate bridge.
The proposed bridge will ensure smooth railway communication both inside and outside the country, he noted.
The Railways Ministry has already proposed a draft project to this end, titled ‘Jamuna Railway Bridge Construction Project’, to the Planning Commission.
The BR will implement the proposed mega project at an estimated cost of Tk 9,740.08 crore. “Out of the total project cost, Tk 2015.75 crore will come from the government exchequer while the rest Tk 7,724.33 crore as project assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA),” said the officials.
The proposed project is also included in the 37th Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan package signed between Japan and Bangladesh on June 29 this year.
Railways Secretary Md Feroz Salah Uddin said that once the bridge is completed, dedicated railway network would be set up between the North and the rest of the country. “The railway bridge will also have a positive impact on the country’s GDP growth.”
Through this bridge, he said, scopes would be there to set up regional railway connectivity with Nepal and Bhutan apart from India.
The Railways Secretary said through the existing Bangabandhu Bridge, large containers could not be carried by the freight trains and even the passenger trains would have to go slowly over the bridge.
The country has some 2,877.10 km railway track and the government has a plan to raise this railway track to 4,730 km within the next 10 years. Some 28 trains now ply the Bangabandhu Bridge and the number of trains will be increased in the coming days.
Another Railways Ministry official said as the Mongla Port railway track is expected to be completed by 2018, the railway network of Bangladesh Railway will be increased while the railway track to be increased by 50 percent by 2023 and by another 100 percent by 2033. “Under the circumstances, the Jamuna Railway Bridge Project has been proposed,” the official added.
The proposal says the transportation of goods will increase if a separate railway bridge is constructed. The proposed bridge could be used in case of closure of the Bangabandhu Bridge due to natural disaster or any other causes.

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