Railway line connecting South via Padma Bridge opens today

Photo shows the rail track of Dhaka-Bhanga rail route in Munshiganj on 8 October 2023.
Prothom Alo

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the Dhaka-Bhanga railway line that connects the southern part of the country with the capital Dhaka via Padma Bridge today, Tuesday.

The rail line, which will open today, will start from the capital’s Gandaria and cross Keraniganj, Munshiganj, Madaripur and Faridpur via Padma Bridge. The government plans to open the remaining part of the rail line stretching from Bhanga to Jashore.

According to the Bangladesh Railway, prime minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the new railway line at Mawa Rail Station at 11:00am.

Accompanied by cabinet members and eminent persons, she will then take a trip from Mawa Station to Faridpur’s Bhanga station by a special train that has been prepared with 14 coaches imported from China.

The prime minister will join a rally organised by Awami League’s Faridpur district unit at Dr Kazi Abu Yusuf Stadium in Bhanga at 2:00pm.

The double-decker 6.15-km Padma Bridge opened on 25 June 2022. Vehicles move on the upper deck while trains will move on the lower deck. The government is implementing the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project (PBRLP) to connect both sides of the Padma river through rail connectivity.

Project director Afzal Hossain told Prothom Alo trains will start carrying passengers soon after the inauguration, but any date is yet to be fixed.

Currently, 43 out of 64 districts of the country have rail connectivity. With the opening of the Dhaka-Bhanga rail line, Munshiganj and Madaripur will be the latest districts to have new rail connectivity. When this rail link expands to Jashore, Narail will also get a new connection. Bangladesh Railway also plans to expand rail connectivity to Patuakhali via Barishal from Faridpur’s Bhanga. At present, no district of Barishal division has railway connectivity.

Officials of the Bangladesh Railway’s operations department said they plan to operate Sundarban Express which runs on the Dhaka-Khulna route and Benpole Express which moves on the Dhaka-Jashore route via Padma Bridge. Both trains now run on Dhaka-Tongi-Joydebpur-Ishwardi via Bangabandhu Bridge and Hardinge Bridge. Likewise, the train that moves on the Rajshahi-Bhanga route is likely to come to Dhaka via Padma Bridge. Besides, authorities concerned are also considering launching commuter trains.

Bangladesh Railway is implementing the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project in three parts. The first part is 38km long stretching from Dhaka to Mawa and a new rail station is being built in Keraniganj. The second part is about 33km long stretching from Mawa to Bhanga, and that has five stations.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate these two parts of the rail link.

The final part of the project is about 83km-long stretching from Bhanga to Jashore with 14 stations.

According to the project deadline, Bangladesh Railway plans to open the Dhaka-Jashore rail route by June of 2024.

According to the Bangladesh Railway, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project on 3 May 2016 with an estimated cost of Tk 349.88 billion. At present, the revised project cost has increased to Tk 392.46 billion. The government also included this project in the fast-track list. China financed the project and the China Railway Group Limited (CREC) is constructing the rail track.

According to the estimation of the Chinese contractor firm CREC, by 2030, 13 pairs of trains will move daily on Dhaka-Bhanga part of this rail route, seven pairs of trains on Bhanga-Kashiani part, five pairs of trains on Kashiani-Jashore part while 4 million passengers will be ferried on Dhaka-Bhanga part annually, 1.7 million on Bhanga-Kashiani part and 1.3 million on Kashiani-Jashore part.

The CREC prepared the estimation based on one-direction movement.