BANGLADESH: The 6 241 m long rail and road bridge over the River Padma was inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on June 25. The bridge is intended to improve links between Dhaka and the southwest of the country, with one estimate being that it could add between 1·2% and 2% to GDP by stimulating economic development along the corridor.
The bridge was designed by AECOM and built by China Major Bridge Engineering Co, with preliminary works starting in November 2014 and main works getting underway a year later.
The truss bridge carries a four-lane road on the upper level and a single track 1 676 mm gauge railway on the lower level. There are 41 pillars, with the underwater pilings extending 122 m deep.
The US$3·86bn cost was met from domestic sources, after a consortium led by the World Bank cancelled proposed credit in 2012 because of concerns about corruption, which were denied.
The 169 km Padma Bridge Rail Link connecting Dhaka with Jashore is under construction for opening in 2024. This will link the capital with the existing Faridpur – Bhanga and Rajbari – Bhatiapara Ghat routes to form the backbone of the rail network in the southwest of the country.
The 392bn taka PBRL is being financed by the government of Bangladesh (15%) and the Chinese government through an Exim Bank of China loan (85%).
The main contractors are China Railway Engineering Corp and 12 of its subsidiaries. In May last year CRRC Tangshan was awarded a contract to supply 100 broad gauge coaches for the route.