Dhaka-Jessore rail link via Padma Bridge

Linking Dhaka directly with Jessore by a new rail route has been a long-felt need. If this need is addressed, it will be considered a real blessing for businesses. The latter would then particularly be able to transport their goods imported from neighbouring India through Benapole land port to Dhaka and other places at a reasonable cost within a very short time. There also exists rail link between Jessore and Benapole that can facilitate such transportation. Besides, the transportation of goods to, and from, Mongla port by freight trains would also be easier and less expensive. In the process, a large volume of traffic is expected to be generated from a number of south and south eastern districts, namely, Barisal, Faridpur and Khulna.

The importance of the proposed rail track for the purpose of transportation of goods and passengers is thus immense. It needs to be ensured at this stage that the building of the rail track and other relevant facilities are made, in tandem with efforts for construction of the Padma Bridge, the work for which is now in progress. The government is hopeful of completing the construction of the bridge within the next three years. The importance of this massive bridge project that had earlier raised lots of controversies during the bidding process, does need no elaboration here. The Padma Bridge, upon completion of its construction, is expected to give a big boost to the economic activities of the south and south-western regions of the country. Those regions will then become closer to Dhaka and northern parts of the country. This will also greatly reduce the travel time by road.

The Padma Bridge does have a provision for a single railway track, like that of another major bridge over the river Jamuna. A fairly large investment would have to be made for building the railway track on the bridge and beyond to connect Dhaka with southern and south-western districts. But such an investment has otherwise a sound economic rationale, particularly considering its benefit for facilitating transportation of goods and passengers that is expected to witness a marked rise, costs being affordable and movement of traffic also becoming easier. In this context, it is a welcome development that the government, as the report said, is planning to build a 190-km rail line to connect Dhaka and Jessore via Padma Bridge.

The planning, according to available indications, is now at a preliminary stage. But there is no denying that the proposed rail link between Dhaka and Jessore, if and when implemented, is expected to make a great contribution to the country’s economy. The distance between Dhaka and Khulna through the existing rail route, being too large, discourages businesses from using the train services for transportation of goods. The transportation entails high cost and longer time. So, traders, in most cases, hire trucks to carry goods, both domestic and imported ones from neighbouring India. The Bangladesh Railway (BR) has not been enthusiastic about expanding the Dhaka-Khulna train service because of poor response from passengers and businesses. It is now operating a couple of express train service daily.

Under the changed circumstances, it has become all too important to make the railway track between Dhaka and Jessore via Mawa, Jinjira and Bhanga ready before the completion of the bridge. Reaping economic benefits out of the bridge will then become instantly possible. However, the availability of funds for the construction of the railway track remains an important issue. A Chinese company, according to a newspaper report, has shown interest in building the rail project, though this proposal is yet to take a concrete shape. Hopefully, it will.


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