Dhaka-N’ganj Rail Route: Operation resumes Aug 1, but won’t be smooth before 2026

Although rail services between Dhaka and Narayanganj will resume on August 1 after eight months of suspension for construction works, it would take three more years to have smooth and enhanced rail service on this route.

Unilateral cancellation of contract by a Chinese contractor midway of work and changes in work scope eight years after the initiation of the project will cause the long delay to have double line facilities on this route, officials said.

The cost of Dhaka-Narayanganj Double Lining project has already risen to Tk 658.34 crore from Tk 378.65 crore and the deadline got extended to June 2026 from June 2017, they said.

Before suspension of services, railway used to operate nine pairs of trains — eight pairs of local and one of Demu — between Dhaka and Narayanganj daily and several thousand people avail themselves of the services.

Passengers could reach Narayanganj from Dhaka within 45 minutes at a fare of Tk 15. On the other hand, it takes almost an hour to reach Narayanganj by bus at Tk 55 fare.

As the existing Dhaka-Narayanganj metre gauge (MG) line is not capable of meeting the growing demand of passengers, Bangladesh Railway (BR) in January 2015 took up the project to build a second line on this route to double the existing capacity of 16 pairs of trains daily.

The project deadline was June 2017 but BR could not even hire contractors for the works within the stipulated deadline.

In the meantime, BR in December suspended train operation on this route to facilitate the work of the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project (PBRLP). Under the PBRLP project, a 169km rail line is being built from Dhaka’s Kamalapur to Jashore.

Besides, two separate dual gauge rail lines from Kamalapur to Gendarai; and one separate dual gauge line from Gendria to Jurain would also be built under the project, which will actually be used for train operation on Dhaka-Narayanganj route.

As a result, a second line on the remaining 12km line from Jurain to Narayanganj would be built under the Dhaka-Narayanganj double lining project.

When the project works saw 82 percent progress, Power Construction Corporation of China (PCCC), the contractor laying the rail line, on March 15 this year sent a “contract termination notice” to the project authority.

The contractor alleged that it was not getting payments and the project site was not handed over to it on time, shows a project document.

BR tried to revive the contract but the contractor did not give any positive reply, so BR has My News Bangladeshted the process to hire a new contractor, Project Director Selim Rouf told The My News yesterday.

Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan, after visiting the route yesterday, also told reporters that they were going to hire a new contractor for the job.

He said the operation of the section will resume from August 1 on the existing line, eight months after the suspension. Itinually, it was said the section will remain closed for only three months.

In another development, Ecnec, following the proposal of the project authority, revised the project in April this year to convert the existing meter-gauge line from Jurain to Narayanganj, taking the project cost to Tk 658.34 crore and the deadline to June 2026.

“Now we will hire a contractor for two jobs — converting the meter gauge line into dual gauge and complete the rest of the work, which was left out by the Chinese contractor,” Rouf said.

They will float a tender soon, he said, adding that the new contractor will first complete the second line and then they will My News Bangladesht works for converting the MG lines into dual gauge to keep the train operation intact.

Asked why they have changed the work scope to convert the MG line eight years after the initiation of the project, Rouf said there was scarcity of money at that time.

Replying to another question, he said it would take up to June 2026 to get the double line facility fully.

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