Concern over location of the two stations of Padma Railway Bridge
With the inauguration of the railway line connecting Dhaka to the southwestern part of the country via the Padma Bridge, new avenues of communication have emerged. However, local residents have raised concerns about the placement of two stations along the Padma Bridge.
These stations, Padma Station and Shibchar Station, are situated in Shibchar Upazila of Madaripur. According to locals, reaching these stations will entail additional time, cost, and inconvenience due to their location. Traveling to Dhaka by bus might be a quicker alternative.
Palash Khan, a safe road and environmental movement activist from Shariatpur, told Prothom Alo, "Although the railway has been constructed through our district, it appears that the station was not planned with the people of Shariatpur in mind. It is unlikely that anyone would choose to travel to Dhaka by coming up to the Padma Bridge, disembarking from the bus, and then proceeding 4 kilometers in the opposite direction by train. The people of our district are oriented towards Dhaka concerning the economy, employment, medical care, and education. After the bridge's opening, many individuals commute from their homes in Shariatpur to Dhaka for work and business. However, since the train station is far away, we have to rely on buses for transportation."
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina officially inaugurated the Dhaka-Bhanga 82 km railway line running across the Padma Bridge. The operation of passenger trains on this new railway will commence shortly.
As per sources associated with the project, within the framework of the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project, a new 172 km railway line is being constructed from Dhaka to Jashore via the Padma Bridge, with an estimated cost of around Tk 400 billion.
Presently, the railway will be operational on the Dhaka-Bhanga route, spanning 82 km. The Padma station is situated in the Qutubpur area of Shibchar, Madaripur, 4 km after the Padma Bridge on the Shariatpur end. Following a 10.5-kilometer stretch, the Shibchar station is located in the Daulatpur area of Shibchar.
Residents of Shariatpur have to access the train from Padma station, situated in Kutubpur, Shibchar, which is four kilometers from Naodoba, the entry point to Shariatpur. Notably, it is in the opposite direction from Dhaka, and a service road has been constructed for ease of access. Additionally, the Shibchar station is located five kilometers away from Pacchar, and commuters need to reach it via the service road.
Many residents of Shariatpur believe that these two stations may not be very advantageous for transportation and goods transit to Dhaka due to their locations. Traveling by bus on the road allows for a faster journey to Dhaka. However, the new railway will significantly facilitate and enhance travel between the South-West and North regions, offering a convenient and comfortable transportation option.
Rimon Halder, a resident of the Rajarchar area in Kalkini upazila of Madaripur, expressed to Prothom Alo, "The distance between Padma station and Shibchar station of the new railway is 40 to 45 kilometres from our area. There is no direct road to these two stations. We have to go to Pacchar and then reach the station via the service road of the Bangabandhu Expressway. This will consume a considerable amount of time and money, causing inconvenience. Perhaps, we may not opt for the train to Dhaka under these circumstances. If I need to travel to Khulna-Jashore or the northern region, then I will consider taking the train."
Zajira Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Kamrul Hasan mentioned to Prothom Alo, "Padma station has been constructed to connect the people of Shariatpur to the railway. Due to geographical constraints, it had to be built in the Shibchar area, which is a bit farther. One has to access the station using the service road of the Padma Bridge in Naodoba. We remain optimistic that all the southern districts, including Shariatpur, will soon be incorporated into the rail network."
According to railway sources, once the entire rail line is operational, the train will have access to routes leading to Khulna via Faridpur, Gopalganj, Narail, and Jashore via the Padma Bridge. Similarly, the train can also operate en route to North Bengal via Rajbari.
The government has future plans to construct a railway line from Barishal to Payra in Patuakhali. Passenger trains are expected to commence operations on this railway route from November.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo online edition, has been rewritten in English by Farjana Liakat