Bangladesh Railway and British company DP Rail Ltd yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for setting up a 240-kilometre rail line between Dhaka and Payra seaport in Patuakhali's Kuakata.
The rail lines would cost an estimated Tk 60,000 crore, which would be provided by the British company, said railway officials, adding that the final cost of the mega project would be determined after a feasibility study.
Under the MoU, DP Rail will have the right to design, finance, build, develop, and operate the rail line. The company will now move ahead with the detailed planning of the railway, and enter into detailed discussions with the Payra Port Authority and Bangladesh Railway, said a media release.
Earlier, the company proposed to invest in Bangladesh's largest railway project which, once implemented, will have an enormous impact on the export-import activities and economic development of the country.
Additional Director General of Bangladesh Railway Rafiqul Alam and Chief Executive of DP Rail Ian S Derbyshire signed the MoU at the Rail Bhaban in presence of Railway Minister Mazibul Hoque, UK Prime Minister's Trade Envoy for Bangladesh Rushanara Ali MP and UK High Commissioner in Dhaka Alison Blake.
"This is a great example of British business expertise supporting the development of Bangladesh infrastructure and future economic development,” said Blake while speaking at the MoU-signing ceremony.
Rushanara Ali said, “This is a project of vital national importance to Bangladesh and I welcome the fact that this project has been proposed as a 'best of British' railway, representing a substantial export opportunity for the UK railway supply chain.”
She looked forward to seeing the benefits that this project will bring to “the people and businesses of Dhaka, and to Bangladesh in general.”
Terming the project an important one for the country's southern region, the Bangladesh railway minister said transportation through the Payra seaport will have vital contribution to the country's economic development.
DP Rail is working with China Railway Construction Corporation (International) Ltd as its principal civil engineering contractor. Senior representatives from the CRCC, including Vice-President Huang Jianmin, were present at the ceremony.
DP Rail expects the freight train service to start, prospectively, in 2024, and in the first full year of operation, the service is projected to handle approximately two million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit).
Payra sits on the Bay of Bengal and has all the potential to become an international seaport, but its road and rail links to Dhaka and other parts of the country are poor at the moment.
Interport BD Ltd has 50 percent share in DP Rail. The company wants to develop a freight railway linking between Dhaka, Payra and the rest of Bangladesh, and a possible link to the Seven Sisters region of India.
Interport is a specialist transport and logistics company, based in Shropshire, England, although most of its activities are currently in Bangladesh.
The company has recently completed a technical and economic feasibility study of the Payra Port as a sub-consultant to British firm HR Wallingford, and has recently secured further consultancy work in Bangladesh, according to the website of DP Rail.
Earlier, HR Wallingford & Consortium prepared a techno-feasibility study of the Payra Port, having 19 components with a total investment of $16 billion. A shipping ministry official said the $16 billion include government-to-government funding and FDI.
The Payra seaport became operational on a limited scale in August, after it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.