Bangladesh to overshoot Padma Bridge Rail Link Project budget by billions for iconic stations

The ministry says the stations in Faridpur’s Bhanga, the two ends of the bridge at Mawa and Zajira, and Narail will be iconic ones.

Changing the design of only the junction at Bhanga may push the cost by Tk 2.8 billion or 75 percent from the Tk 38.2 million earmarked for the station in the original plan.

Officials say the total cost may go up by several billions of takas, although the estimated cost to construct the three other stations have not been figured out. 

“A world-class bridge is being constructed on the Padma river. We want everything related to the bridge to come with international standards,” said Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan.

He said the four stations will have modern facilities. “So the project cost will increase and amendments will be needed.”

The estimated cost of the railway link project was nearly Tk 392.5 billion when the Executive Committee of the Economic Council or ECNEC approved it in May 2018.The government is funding over Tk 210 billion with loans from China. It will finance the remainder of the money from its coffers.

Under the project, the authorities will construct 172-kilometre railway tracks from Faridpur’s Bhanga to Jashore via Narail. China Railway Group or CREC is expected to finish the job within 2024.

There will be 17 stations from Dhaka to Jashore, a railways ministry official said, citing the original plan.

The stations in Bhanga, Jashore’s Rupdia and Dhaka’s Gendaria will be renovated under the project while the 14 other stations will be new.

In the original plan, the estimated cost for the 17 stations was a little over Tk 366 million.

An official at the ministry said the proposal to amend the project will be tabled at ECNEC for clearance this year, if finalised.Minister Sujan said the construction of the Bhanga station would raise the cost by Tk 2 billion while another Tk 800 million would be needed for land acquisition.

“We can’t ensure sustainable development if we forget that the government is working to make Bangladesh a developed country within 2041.

“We are spending so much money on the project so that it will be suitable for a developed Bangladesh and the people can use it for a long time,” he added.

The minister believes the design change will not affect the implementation to a great deal.

The ministry in February last year decided to initiate the plan to turn Bhanga junction into a modern station like the ones China has, an official said.

The overhead station will have separate entry and exit points, access control, natural light-filled waiting area and food court, shopping mall and commercial space.

It was also decided that the Gendaria station in Dhaka needs renovation considering the plan to introduce high-speed trains.

All the stations under the project will have lifts, escalator, footbridge or underpass.

“We are bound to do however the minister wants it,” said Project Director Golam Fakhruddin A Chowdhury.

Chinese firm CREC was asked in January to make a detailed plan on the modern station in Bhanga and submit an estimated cost.

The estimated cost will be finalised once the design is made. The government will ask about the Narail station afterwards, Chowdhury said.

Work is underway to determine which parts of the projects need to be altered.

He hopes the project will be completed within the deadline. “We still have a lot of time.”

“We are ready to open up the bridge for trains on the day it is opened to traffic as promised by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” he added.

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