The construction work at the problematic points of the rail link, which was suspended due to issues in the design, will resume soon, says railways minister
The Bangladesh Railway (BR) has already fixed the design flaw of the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project (PBRLP), but construction work at the problematic areas has yet to resume.
“There is no design flaw actually. We found a problem at the crossing points of the PBRLP, which has already been fixed,” Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan has said.
A recent visit to the site, however, revealed that the construction work was at a standstill at both points of the design flaw.
If the construction work is not resumed immediately, the cost of the project might increase and, on top of that, the authorities may not be able to meet the deadline of the launch of train services on the opening day of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge, scheduled for next year.
Even so, the railways minister assured that the construction work would soon resume and there was no need to be apprehensive about an increase in cost or required time.
“We are optimistic that trains will be operated on the inauguration day of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge,” Sujan told Dhaka Tribune.
According to the existing design of the PBRLP, the rail link would have obstructed the movement of road traffic on the approach roads to the Padma Bridge at both ends — Mawa and Janjira.
The railways minister said: “We have decided to adjust some railway pillars accordingly to ensure that there will be no traffic barriers.”
According to the Bridges Division, the height of the rail line was set at 4.8m and 5.2m at Mawa and Janjira, respectively, instead of the standard height of 5.7m. Furthermore, the width of the rail link was shown as 9.5m at Janjira and 10m at Mawa, instead of the standard 15.5m.
To overcome these difficulties, BR has held a series of meetings with the Bridges Division as well as the Roads and Highways Department since the problem was identified in August. Initially, BR was in favour of slightly increasing the height and width but later it took into consideration the standard height and width for traffic movement.
Regarding this issue, the railways minister said: “We have fixed the problem by going for the standard height and width — 5.7m and 15.5m; some of the railway pillars might need restructuring.”
“Two or three pillars at the Mawa point likely need to be restructured. But there is no restructuring needed at the Janjira point as no pillar has been installed there yet. We’ll set up an additional pillar at the latter point to solve the issues,” Sujan said.
BR took the decision following recommendations made by the government's expert panel on the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project.
‘No need for major structural changes’
Echoing the railways minister’s words, Prof Shamim Z Bosunia, chairman of the expert panel, said: “It is not a massive design flaw and hence there is no need for major structural changes.”
“We basically identified an alignment fault in the PBRLP where the Padma Bridge and the rail link cross each other,” he added.
“While constructing the piles of the Padma Bridge, we faced many difficulties which were eventually resolved. It is not a fault at all,” Shamim told Dhaka Tribune.
“As far as I know, Bangladesh Railway has already made the necessary structural changes,” he added.
The Padma Bridge Rail Link will be the main transportation channel connecting central Bangladesh with the western and south-western parts of the country, across the Padma Multipurpose Bridge, by June 2024 at a cost of Tk39,246 crore.
The government plans to open a section of the rail route — the 14km Mawa and Bhanga portion of the 168.6km long rail link — in 2021. The new rail link will shorten current travel distance between the capital, Jessore and Khulna, by 308km.