Bangladesh and India signed a deal to do a study on the feasibility of a direct rail corridor with the northern Bogura district to reduce travel time with Dhaka.
Bangladesh Railway (BR) and RITES Ltd of India in a joint venture with Aarvee Associates Architects Engineers and Consultants Pvt Ltd inked a Tk 975-million contract on Monday.
Railways minister Mohammad Nurul Islam Sujon witnessed the signing of the agreement at Rail Bhaban.
Railways secretary Mohammad Selim Reza, Bangladesh Railway (BR) director-general Dhirendra Nath Mazumder and Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh Vikram K Doraiswami, among others, were present.
The BR has made the move to develop the missing link between Bogura and Shahid M Mansur Ali Station of Sirajganj at Tk 55.79 billion under the Indian line of credit-03 to reduce 112 kilometres to reach Sirajganj.
The proposed development will also shorten dual-gauge links between the country's western and northern parts with eastern and southern parts via the capital.
Abu Zafar Miah, project director of the construction of dual-gauge line from Shahid M Mansur Ali Station Sirajganj project, and Sanjay Agrawal, RITES executive director (regional projects), signed the agreement on behalf of their respective sides.
Minister Mr Sujon termed the contract-signing moment historical, saying the project will bring significant change in rail communications with the country's north.
Despite giving due importance to rail's development, he says, the BR still needs to improve in areas like ticketing, track upgradation, recruitment and skills development.
Mr Doraiswami said the railway would be a leading means of transportation in Bangladesh.
The railway's new dual-gauge line would reduce the distance of the two cities, he added. For no Bogura-Sirajganj link, project documents show, north-westerns have to cross a round alignment of 187 kilometres as the dual-gauge line crosses Gaibandha, Rangpur, Lalmonirhat and Kurigram to reach Sirajganj.
The BR initiated to follow the prime minister's directive during her Bogura visit in November 2015.