The government is going to convert Akhaura-Sylhet rail track from metre to dual gauge at a cost of Tk 16,104.45 crore in a bid to improve connection with the north-east region.
China will finance 66.16 percent of the project to convert 225km metre gauge lines to 239km dual gauge between June 2019 and June 2025.
Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) yesterday approved the project at its meeting in the planning ministry with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
Under the project, Bangladesh Railway will construct 239.14km rail tracks, 49 major (5,945-metre) and 237 minor (1,725-metre) bridges, install signal systems at 22 stations and acquire 200 acres of land, among others.
It would cost Tk 67 crore per kilometre, which, according to media reports, is much higher than the cost of similar rail projects.
Asked, Planning Minister MA Mannan yesterday said he is not in a position to ascertain the project cost; rather it is engineers and planners who will set the cost.
“If they [engineers and planners] fixed Tk 100 as the project cost, how can I fix it at Tk 60?” he said.
The minister said he has information that there are similar projects which are much costlier than this one.
According to project documents, average speed of train in this section is around 50km per hour. Once the project is implemented, the average speed in broad gauge will be 120km per hour and 100km per hour in metre gauge.
The project will enable the track to start operation of national, regional and international freight and broad gauge container services.
Including this one, Ecnec approved total seven projects costing Tk 18,191 crore. It approved a project involving Tk 920 crore to acquire 1,000 acres of land in Chattogram's Mirsarai for Indian investors. The Mirsarai economic zone will be developed with funds from a third line of credit from India.