GOOD PROGRESS is being made with the dual-gauge link being built to join the two halves of Bangladesh Railway's network. Tracklaying on the 99 km route between Jamtoil, near Siraganj, and Joydepur is around 70% complete, with the head of steel reaching Tangail on the east side of the Jamuna river in March. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate passenger services this month over this section.

The project requires construction of 63 bridges, of which the largest is the already-completed Jamuna crossing. Three of the eight stations are ready, and other work is well advanced, with opening throughout scheduled for next year.

Once the link is completed, BR plans to extend dual gauge over the metre gauge line from Joydepur to Dhaka. At the same time, broad gauge routes will dualled between Siraganj, Ishurdi, Santahar and Parbatipur, ending the isolation of metre gauge lines in the northwest.

Funding for the Jamuna bridge line has been provided by the Asian Development Bank, the OPEC fund for international development, the governments of France and Spain, and the Canadian Export Development Corp.