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High-speed train planned for Dhaka-Chittagong route

  • Published at 11:23 pm July 20th, 2018
China bullet train
The representational image of a Hexiehao bullet train in ChinaBigstock

The train will run at a maximum speed of 200 km per hour

Passengers will soon be relieved of lengthy journeys between Dhaka and Chittagong, as a high-speed train service is going to be introduced on the route. 

Once the service is introduced, the journey from the capital to the commercial capital – which currently takes six to seven hours – will take one and a half hours, or a maximum two hours.. 

Dubbed the “bullet train”, it will run at maximum a speed of 200 km per hour.  Existing Bangladeshi inter-city trains run at a maximum speed of 70 km per hour. 

Travelling in Europe by train is already faster than by plane; and neighbouring India is also moving towards travel by bullet train.  

Now Bangladesh Railway has taken a project to launch a high-speed train by June 2022.

On May 31, the railway signed a deal with China Railway Design Corporation and Majumder Enterprise of Bangladesh—to conduct a feasibility study for, and design, the proposed high-speed train line.

Project Director Kamrul Ahsan said: “As per the agreement, the feasibility study and design will be completed by December 2019 at a cost of Tk102.10 crore. The Bangladesh government funded the work.”

Route plan and design

According to the plan, the proposed train will run through Narayanganj instead of via the Tongi-Bhairab route. 

The existing Dhaka-Chittagong rail link is 320km long, but the proposed route length is 230km.

It moves to Chittagong from Dhaka through: Tongi, Narsingdi, Bhairab, Akhaura, Comilla, and Feni. The proposed route will go through Narayanganj and connect at Comilla or Lakhsam on the existing Dhaka-Chittagong route. 

Railway Minister Mujibul Haque told the Dhaka Tribune: “The Dhaka-Chittagong rail-link is an important route. The existing length of the route is 320km—which will be set at 230km.

“The train will run at 200km speed and the travel time will be only one-and- a-half hours or a maximum two hours,” he added.  

The Dhaka-Narayanganj section of the alignment will be constructed next to the existing rail line while the other alignment portion, from Narayanganj to Comilla, will be elevated. 

Several bridges, including two large spans over the Shitalakshya and Meghna rivers, will also be constructed for the rail link, according to the plan.

Kazi Rafiqul Alam, additional director general (infrastructure) of Bangladesh Railway, told the Dhaka Tribune: “The Dhaka-Chittagong high-speed train project will be implemented under the government-to-government agreement with China at an estimated cost of Tk50,000 crore.” 

Quick transportation can boost the economy

The Dhaka-Chittagong rail route is the part of the Trans-Asian rail network. The network will be connected to India’s Kolkata and Myanmar’s Gundam—which could link to China in future.  

Bangladesh Railway is also implementing a project to upgrade from meter gauge line to dual gauge for Tk1,683 croreto provide transit to India, Nepal, and Bhutan—and increase trade with these countries.

The new route will hasten journeys between Dhaka and Chittagong, but also boost the economy because of efficient  transportation of goods among the neighbouring countries.

“The high-speed train project is important as it will mobilize trade and tourism,” said railway official Rafiqul. 

The railway has been facing losses for many years. It suffered a loss of around Tk1,853 crore in the last fiscal year, according to sources.  

“The new route and high-speed train will help increase the earnings of the railway,” said Rafiqul.