IHI, Mitsui Sumitomo Construction win India-linking railway bridge project in Bangladesh

24, Apr. 2020

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TOKYO, NNA – Japanese heavy industry giant IHI Corp. and Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Co. have won a railway bridge construction project in Bangladesh for part of a train network reaching to the Indian border as the country attempts to beef up its passenger and freight transportation capacity.

A joint venture between IHI Infrastructure Systems Co., IHI’s wholly owned subsidiary, and the contractor will build the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Railway Bridge across the Jamuna River, about 100 kilometers northwest of Dhaka, they said in a joint statement on Thursday.

IHI’s first railway bridge construction project in the South Asian country, financed by official development assistance from the Japanese government, comes as train operations face delays and limits on speed and loading due to aging infrastructure despite its robust economic growth in recent years, a spokeswoman in Tokyo told NNA.

The value of the contract awarded by Bangladesh Railway, the state-owned railway operator under the Ministry of Railways, has not been disclosed.

The JV will begin construction work in May on the 2,250-meter-long western side of the 4,800-meter bridge and station buildings, as well as the reinforcement of the Jamuna River dike, which is planned to be completed in May 2024, according to the statement.

Image of the completed “Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Railway Bridge”. (Image courtesy of OC Global Co.-Chodai-DDC Joint Venture)
Image of the completed “Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Railway Bridge”. (Image courtesy of OC Global Co.-Chodai-DDC Joint Venture)

The railway bridge will co-exist with the current bridge that serves both for vehicles and trains over the river running north to south through the central part of the country, the statement said.

The IHI spokeswoman said the bridge will drastically increase the transportation capacity of the railway line.

The number of passengers would double in 2026 compared to that in 2017 while freight volume would surge 10-fold, she said, citing an estimate by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Tokyo’s development aid agency. The bridge could cut travel time from the current 44 minutes to nine minutes between two stations on the east and west sides of the river.

Since there are also aging multi-purpose bridges elsewhere in the country, IHI aims to win contracts for the construction of more railway bridges.

The existing bridge consists of a part of the Trans-Asian Railway that extends from Bangladesh to neighboring India. It was built in 1998 as a road bridge but it subsequently came to be used also as a railway bridge. However, the aging bridge has developed problems such as vibrations and cracks.