Bangladesh Railways will purchase 200 units of broad gauge (BG) passenger carriages to replace old carriages which have lost their economic life.
The new carriages would be helpful to meet the growing demand to operate new trains after the inception of the Padma Bridge and the Jamuna Rail Bridge.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved a project in this regard on Tuesday with an estimated cost of Tk1,704.34 crore. The European Investment Bank (EIB) would provide Tk1,331.20 crore loan support to implement the project, said Planning Minister MA Mannan at a press briefing following the meeting.
The Ecnec meeting was held at the NEC auditorium at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in the capital. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presided over the meeting joining virtually from her official Ganobhaban residence.
The planning minister said the Ecnec approved a total of 12 projects with an estimated cost of Tk15,744 crore. Among the projects, 11 are fresh ones and another one is the first revision of an ongoing project. Tk1,1675 crore will be funded from the government exchequer and Tk4,068 crore will be collected from foreign sources.
MA Mannan said 200 new carriages are being procured for the development of passenger services of the broad gauge and dual gauge sections of the Rajshahi, Khulna and Rangpur divisions of the railways. The project deadline has been fixed till June 2025.
The objectives of the project are to provide modern, safe and comfortable services to the passengers as well as to operate trains on new routes, replace old passenger carriages and increase the revenue of Bangladesh Railways to meet the increasing passenger demand.
According to the project proposal, the railway currently has 467 broad gauge carriages but the economic life of 276 has come to an end. With the opening of Padma Bridge and Jamuna Rail Bridge, additional trains will be operated in the western and eastern parts of the railway. Apart from that, rail communication with neighboring countries will also increase. Moreover, additional carriages will be required when broad gauge trains are introduced in the whole country as per the master plan of Bangladesh Railway.
The railways will need 400 broad gauge carriages in the next two to four years. To meet the urgent need in the initial stage, 200 carriages are being procured. More carriages would be procured in the future if necessary, the planning minister added.
The Ecnec meeting also approved a Tk2,555.25 crore project to enhance the capacity of the urban local government bodies in their recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic as well as to strengthen their preparedness in facing such a situation in the future.
The planning minister said the Local Government Division will implement the "Local Government Covid-19 Response and Recovery (LGCRR)" project to improve the services of 10 city corporations and 329 pourasabhas. The project would provide cash assistance to these local government bodies to meet the financial crises created by the pandemic.
Out of the total project cost, the government will provide Tk11.25 crore while the rest Tk2,544 crore will come from the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank.
The aim of the project is to strengthen urban local government institutions for responding to the Covid pandemic and improve preparedness to future shocks benefitting about 40 million urban residents.
It will create 1.5 million days of temporary work as well as employment for 10,000 women under the public work scheme. The project will also help the local government institutions to improve preparedness for climate impacts, disasters and future disease outbreaks.
The other projects approved in the meeting are supplying water through harvesting of rainwater in coastal districts with Tk961.76 crore; establishment of air force training institute at Zohurul Haque Base in Chattogram, 1st revised with an additional cost of Tk140.42 crore; a project for improvement of governance and management research and training facilities with Tk228.08 crore; upgrading three regional highways and three district highways under Naogaon Road Department with Tk1182.49 crore; establishment of external telecommunication network for Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant with Tk378.84 crore; and establishment of seed multiplication farm at the southeastern region of Bangladesh with Tk438.93 crore.
The other approved projects are an expansion of irrigation area and irrigation capacity through expansion of underground irrigation channels and introduction of drip irrigation system on a test basis with Tk329.01 crore; improvement of universal social infrastructures-2 (GSIDP-2) with Tk1082 crore; construction of important bridges on rural roads, 2nd phase, with Tk4,050 crore and important upazila and union road widening and strengthening in Barishal Division with Tk2,693.43 crore.