Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is set to jointly launch today with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi the Khulna-Kolkata train service and open two bridges on railway routes connecting Dhaka with Sylhet and Chittagong.
Officials said the two premiers would inaugurate the projects through a video conferencing from Dhaka and New Delhi when they would also launch an “end to end” immigration facility to ease Dhaka-Kolkata Moitree Train services.
Railway officials said the two new bridges were built on the Bhairab and Titas rivers as a second track was constructed for simultaneous operation of up and down train services from Dhaka to Chittagong and Sylhet.
“We will call the new structures as the second Bhairab Bridge and second Titas bridge,” a railway official familiar with the process said.
He said the train to operate on the 177KM Khulna-Kolkata route would be dubbed as “Bandhan Express” while the service was being launched to ease further communication between the two neighbouring countries.
The train on the route, however, would start ferrying passengers from November 16 and according to the schedule, it would leave Kolkata at 11 am (Indian time) and reach Khulna within only four and a half hours.
The two railway bridges were constructed with the Indian Line of Credit (LoC).
The 984-meter long and seven-meter width Bhairab Railway Bridge was built at a cost of Tk 567 crore, while its construction work began on December 25 in 2013 and ended last month.
Under an agreement with Bangladesh government, India’s Ircon-Afcons JV constructed the bridge having both dual gauge and broad-gauge facilities.
The new Titas Bridge is 218-meter in length and 7-meter in width while it was built at a cost of Tk 161.36 crore by another Indian company called Gannon-Flcl Consortium under a nearly identical agreement with the government.
The construction work of the second Titas Bridge started on January 27 in 2014 and ended last month.
“Trains plying Dhaka-Chittagong and Dhaka-Sylhet routes would use both the old and new bridges,” Bangladesh Railway’s eastern zone general manager and project director of the two bridges Md Abdul Hai told BSS.
He said the up train from Dhaka would move through one bridge, while the down one would use the other while the trains connecting Dhaka with the major two cities could ply without any crossing at Bhairab and Akhaura stations.
“The bridges will reduce travel time between Dhaka and Chittagong and Dhaka and Sylhet and we will be able to run the dual gauge and broad gauge trains at 100 kilometer and 120-km speed respectively, ” the official said.
Hai said ECNEC had approved the initiative on November 9 in 2010 to smoothen the Dhaka-Chittagong Double Line train services.