Train service from Dhaka to Bhanga will be started in December next year, said Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujan on Monday.
Visiting the project area along with the members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Railway Ministry on Monday, the minister said, "The Bridges Division has not yet handed over the railway section of the Padma Bridge. They will not be able to hand it over before March next year as work on the gas pipeline is being delayed."
As the construction of the Mawa-Bhanga portion is 71% completed, the railways' ministry wants to launch a train on this part, to cross the bridge by train, on the day of the opening of Padma Bridge for road transportation in June next year.
However, it would not be possible if the Bridge Authority cannot hand over the railway part of the Padma Bridge in time.
The minister said if crossing the bridge by train is not possible on the first day of opening the bridge, train service from Dhaka to Bhanga will be started in December next year.
"Once the rail portion of the bridge is handed over to us, it will take another six months to complete the rest of the work. In this case, it will not be possible to operate a train on the bridge in June," he added.
The minister said, "People will get no benefit if the train is operated from Bhanga to Mawa. On the other hand, if it is operated from Dhaka to Bhanga, the people can be provided with a meaningful service."
"Initially the work of the project was hampered due to various complications. With all the complications resolved, work is now going on in full swing," Sujan said, adding that the deadline for completion of the project is June 2024.
Under the ongoing Padma Bridge Rail Link Project, a 169km railway line will be constructed at a cost of Tk39,247 crore.
Intending to develop the internal rail connectivity, the government is constructing this Dhaka to Jashore railway via the Padma Bridge.
Exim Bank of China is financing Tk21,037 crore for the project while China Railway Group Limited is working on the biggest package of this project.