2-hr travel time; new route to reduce distance as well: Minister tells UNB

Over 50,000 passengers will be able to commute between the national capital and port city Chattogram daily in just two-hour time once high speed trains are introduced on Dhaka-Chattogram route.

In an exclusive interview with UNB, Railways Minister Mujibul Haque said recently that once the high speed trains are pressed into the service, expectedly by 2025, passengers on this route will be able to avail trains once in every half an hour from 6 am till 10 pm.

The high speed trains will carry passengers from Dhaka to Chattogram and vice versa in just 1.5 to 2 hours' time costing Tk 1500 per passenger, said the minister.

Citing it as an important project for the country, the railways minister added that the trains will be similar to those operated in Europe, China, Japan and Korea.

Eight pairs of high-speed trains will shuttle between Dhaka and Chattogram, each containing ten coaches and two engines in front and back of the trains.

Each train can accommodate 800 passengers, with as many as 32 trips daily from Dhaka to Chattogram and vice versa.

Currently, eight pairs of trains commute on Dhaka-Chattogram route, accommodating 15,000-20,000 passengers daily. These trains generally take over five to six hours to cover the distance.

Now, railways minister said, the distance between Dhaka and Chattogram by rail is 321 km, but it would come down to 230 km after the construction of a new rail route, while the travel time will be something between 1.5 hours to 2 hours, with the high speed train moving as fast as 200 km per hour.

According to sources at Bangladesh Railway, the entire project will cost Tk 50,000 crore, which the Bangladesh government plans on completing with the help of a foreign donor.

They also said that an entirely separate rail line will be constructed in the Dhaka-Kumilla, Laksam-Chattogram route, which will be built over Feni and will conclude at a newly-built rail station just beside the existing station in Chattogram.

In a recent research report Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) said that the new high-speed trains would generate demands for 60,000 passengers on Dhaka-Cumilla, 40,000 on Cumilla-Feni and 50,000 on Feni-Chattogram routes.

A contract to undertake feasibility study and detailed design regarding the project was signed between Bangladesh Railway and a Bangladeshi-Chinese consortium on May 31 between China Railway Design Corporation (CRDC), China and Mazumder Enterprise (ME), Bangladesh Consortium (CRDC-ME Consortium).

The railways minister said the Tk. 102 crore study will be completed within the next 18 months.

On completion of the feasibility study and detailed design plan, railway sources said that the government will approve the Development Project Proposal (DPP) by 2020, and seek for donor to finance the project.

Related tenders will be floated for contractors within this period.

Necessary land acquisition for the new rail line and station will also commence, which will run parallel to the other aspects and conclude by 2021.

It will take three to four years to complete the entire project, with rail sources estimating the project to be completed by 2024-25.

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