China’s state-owned firm has been awarded the contract to build a USD 4.44-billion railway line passing through Bangladesh’s largest bridge which is currently under construction, a media report said on Thursday.
The total project cost would be met through China’s government soft loan and from the government’s own funds, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
China Railway Construction Corp Ltd (CRCC) signed the official construction contract with the Bangladeshi government early this week, the report said.
The Bangladeshi government gave the final go-ahead to the Chinese company to start construction of the 215-km Padma Bridge rail link from capital Dhaka to Jessore district, 164 kms from the capital.
CRCC was commissioned to construct the railroad for 247.49 billion taka (USD 3.14 billion). Construction is scheduled to be completed by June, 2022.
The rail link project also includes construction of 66 main bridges, 244 minor bridges, 14 new rail stations and procurement of 100 passenger coaches, the report said.
The trains will travel at a maximum speed of 120 kms per hour on the link.
The project will be built under the Trans-Asian Railway (TAR) project aimed at creating an integrated freight railway network across Europe and Asia.
This is also reportedly a project of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
The Padma bridge will be double-decker with a four-lane road on the upper deck and a broad gauge single railway track on the lower deck.
In June 2014, the Bangladeshi government awarded China Major Bridge Engineering Company Limited a USD 1.55-billion contract to build the core structure of the bridge project which is to be completed in four years.
The 25-meter-wide and 10-km-long bridge will be built over Padma River, one of the three major rivers in Bangladesh.
About 6.15 km of the bridge is being built over the river while the remaining part on both banks.
Apart from connecting nearly 30 million people in Bangladesh’s southwest region to the rest of the country, the bridge will enhance regional trade and collaboration along the Asian highway No 1 and the Trans-Asian railway network.
A portion of the rail line reportedly will be up and running by 2018, when the Bangladeshi government presents the much-publicised infrastructure project to the public, as the Padma bridge can be used by both road and rail.
The bridge will shorten travel time between Dhaka and the country’s southern region, boosting trade and economy.
Experts say the bridge when it comes into operation in 2018 will ease pressure on the country’s premier seaport Chittagong, 242 kms southeast of Dhaka, as it will bolster the second largest Mongla seaport, 178 kms southwest of the capital.