The railway authorities will complete the installation of 42 kilometres of rail tracks in the Bhanga-Mawa section by the 20th of this month while trial runs with passenger trains will start by August.
Officials said the authorities will start running railroad speeders by March to inspect the line and Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan may inaugurate the process.
They also said the authorities may take a few more days to install loop lines at the stations in this section. After installing loop lines, the section will be ready for train operations in September.
“Trains will run on the Padma Bridge from September, allowing passengers to travel from Dhaka to Faridpur’s Bhanga,” Afzal Hossain, director of the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project, said.
“The installation of about 500 metres of rail tracks on the bridge is yet to finish. If we can continue work, it will be completed by the 20th of this month,” he said.
The Dhaka-Mawa part’s construction will be completed by August while the Bhanga-Jashore section will be finished by next year, he also said, adding the project’s overall progress is 75 per cent.
In November last year, test runs of railroad speeders were conducted on the new line from Bhanga to Zajira. After tracks are laid on the Padma Bridge, the speeders will be able to inspect the line from Mawa to Bhanga.
Bangladesh Railway Director General Md Quamrul Ahsan told reporters last month they would be ready to run trains from Dhaka to Bhanga by August.
He said they would also be able by then to install automated signalling systems at four of the eight stations.
According to the project documents, the 169km Dhaka-Jashore Padma Bridge rail link will be completed in three parts – from Dhaka to Mawa, from Mawa to Bhanga, and from Bhanga to Jashore.
It is a priority project being implemented by Bangladesh Railway. The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council in March 2016 approved the project with an estimated cost of Tk 349.89 billion.
Bangladesh signed a $2.76 billion credit deal with China’s Exim Bank in 2018 to implement the project. After making reasonable adjustments, the project’s deadline was extended by two years to December 2024. But after construction began, the project encountered another setback due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. On June 25 last year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the much-awaited Padma Bridge with the incomplete railway tracks. The upper deck of the bridge was opened to traffic the next day.