BANGLADESH Railway was expecting to link its West and East zones with the introduction of a Rajshahi - Joydepur through service via the Jamuna bridge from June 25 (RG 6.02 p326). East of the bridge the broad gauge trains will use dual-gauge track which has been installed as far as Joydepur on the metre gauge East Zone.

Conversion to dual gauge of the West Zone’s broad gauge line from Parbatipur to the bridge will be completed in July, and BR expects to finish the installation of signalling and telecommunications on the east-west route in October.

A metre-gauge shuttle will operate between Joydepur and Dhaka until the 34 km section of the main line is converted to dual gauge and upgraded next year. Once this has been completed, west-east services will run into the capital’s Kamalpur station. Broad gauge trains will run at up to 120 km/h, whilst the speed of metre gauge trains will be raised from 35 km/h to 100 km/h.

According to East Zone General Manager Mokhlesur Rahman, work is to start soon on a US$104·5m branch line upgrading project. The government has agreed in principle to buy 150 coaches for the East Zone and 100 for the West, and South Korea is to provide US$26m to fund 11 new locomotives. The East Zone has begun procurement of 30 new coaches, and US$13m has been approved for refurbishing existing vehicles.

H A feasibility study has been completed for the construction of a railway between Dohazari and Cox’s Bazaar.