After India it will be new int’l rail route
Zarif Mahmud:Rail communication between Bangladesh and India so far been established. More new rail connections are being introduced between the two more countries. As a result, trade between the two countries is gaining momentum and communication is gaining new dimensions. Bangladesh is working with other neighboring countries to get this benefit. To this end, the government has taken up the plan of establishing rail link with Nepal, Bhutan and China via Bangladesh with India through Banglabandha of Panchagarh.
Under the project, a new 56 km dual gauge railway will be constructed on Banglabandha route in Tentulia upazila of Panchagarh. The estimated cost of the project is Tk 3,653.56 crore. Of this, government funding is Tk 1,313.24 crore and foreign debt is Tk 2,440.34 crore. The implementation period is from July 2022 to June 2026. Any development partner other than the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been proposed as a potential source of foreign credit.
According to Bangladesh Railway sources, the Ministry of Railways has sent a proposal to the Planning Commission for policy approval of the project. Discussions are underway with the ADB on the PDPP (Preliminary Development Project Proposal) for the construction of a new dual gauge railway from Panchagarh to Banglabandha. Not only ADB, foreign investment of Tk 2,440.34 crore will be taken from any other development partner for the implementation of the project on easy terms.
If the project is implemented, it will be possible to reach China and neighboring countries by rail in a short time. Bangladesh Railway will reach China in half the time required to reach Dhaka from Banglabandha. It takes a maximum of 30 minutes to reach India and one to one and a half hours to reach Nepal and Bhutan. For these reasons, the Bangladesh government is taking initiative to establish rail link with India, China, Nepal and Bhutan through Banglabandha land port in Tentulia upazila of Panchagarh, the northernmost district of the country.
The distance from Banglabandha land port to India, Nepal and Bhutan is very short. The Indian border is within a few hundred yards from Banglabandha. The distance from this land port to Nepal is only 61 kilometers. The distance to Bhutan is only 6 kilometers and the border with China is only 200 kilometers. This potential port could tie five friendly countries together. That is why the Bangladesh government wants to establish rail link between the four countries through Banglabandha.
Asim Kumar Talukder, General Manager (West) of Bangladesh Railway, told that the railways are the safest and most economic. Various initiatives are being taken to establish communication with the neighboring countries of Bangladesh by rail. One of these initiatives is the construction of a new dual gauge railway from Panchagarh to Banglabandha. If this railway is constructed, a new route will be created for communication with India through Banglabandha.
Nepal and Bhutan have railways with India. If we can connect India with Banglabandha then easy communication with other countries will be created. Different points of Indian Railways will be added. International freight cars and passenger carriages will operate.
According to railway sources, Banglabandha land port is currently importing goods with India, Nepal and Bhutan as well as passengers traveling through immigration. Besides, 36 km new railway will be constructed up to Sonamasjid border through Chapainawabganj district. As a result, it will be one of the routes of rail link between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN). If rail communication system is introduced in the land port, besides passenger transport, transportation of goods for import and export will be easier and cheaper.
The government is examining the feasibility of important projects in the northern and western zones of the railway before starting the main project. The implementation period of the survey project has been extended till June 2022. Four survey projects are being carried out under this feasibility study project. This includes feasibility study for construction of railway from Panchagarh to Banglabandha.
Work on the original project will begin as soon as the survey project is completed. Earlier, the project’s PDPP was sent to the Economic Relations Department for foreign funding. Necessary steps will be taken in this regard by contacting various development partners through the Economic Relations Department. In this case, it would not be right to ask for foreign funding by fixing project assistance of Tk 2,440.34 crore without completing the survey project.
Scope of work
Various plans have been taken for proper implementation of the project. One of these is feasibility study and detailed design of consulting services. There will also be feasibility studies, hydrographic surveys, mathematical modeling, economic studies, environmental studies, social and residential services.
Three alternative alignments have been prepared by the consultant. The railway from Panchagarh to Banglabandha has been recommended as the best suitable alignment. Detailed trapographic and hydrographic surveys of the recommended alignment have been completed by the Institute of Water Modeling. Based on this survey and in consultation with stakeholders, the recommended alignment is finalized.
A total of five new B-Class stations have been proposed, with Growth Centers, economic hotspots, and station densities determined by consultants practicing population density. The stations are: Panchagarh-Jagdal, Jagdal-Bhojanpur, Bhojanpur-Tentulia, Tentulia-Trinoyhat, Trinoyhat-Banglabandha.
Traffic forecast A 50-year traffic forecast has been prepared by the consultant. The existing Dhaka-Panchagarh route used to carry 16,642 passengers per day in 2020. In case of transportation of goods, the amount of goods imported from Banglabandha land port was 16 lakh 96 thousand 69 metric tons. Besides, the amount of goods exported was 42,732 metric tons and the amount of income was Tk 3.15 crore.
The proposed Panchagarh-Banglabandha route carried 4,804 passengers and 3,249 tonnes of goods daily in 2020. In 2055, the number of passengers per day on this route will be 15,069 and the freight will be 5,149 tons. Considering these economic reasons, the government is giving special importance to the new route.
The proposed railways will be broad gauge single line and train arrival and departure points have been fixed at Parbatipur Junction Station. The meter gauge train from Lalmonirhat and the broad-gauge train from Khulna will use Parbatipur station to reach and depart the destination. On the other hand, there will be similar facilities at Kanchan Junction in Dinajpur.
The concerned people claim that if the railway connection is established through Banglabandha, the revenue income of Bangladesh will increase. At the same time import-export, medical and travel will increase. Ordinary people will be able to travel in less time and at lower cost. Establishing rail link with four countries through Banglabandha land port will open new horizons.
Panchagarh Deputy Commissioner. Zahurul Islam told that Banglabandha is the nearest land port among the four countries. Bangladesh will benefit economically if rail link is created with neighboring countries through Banglabandha. Lots of people will be employed here. It will be one of the import-export spots. Trade and commerce will expand. Overall, the country’s trade with neighboring countries will expand.
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