Commercial operation to begin by late 2022, says Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader
The test run of Bangladesh’s first-ever metro train service on the viaduct in the capital has begun.
The formal trial operations started at around 11:54am on Sunday after Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader inaugurated the event by waving a green flag.
The minister told reporters that after a total of 14 months of performance test – which includes five months of trial run – the commercial operation of metro rail in Dhaka will begin by the end of 2022.
The set of the metro train, comprising six coaches, left Diabari depot at Uttara for Pallabi station. The electric train is to cross three stations on its way – Uttara North, Uttara Central, and Uttara South.
As it is a mainline performance test, the train is being operated at a slow pace and without any passengers.
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As part of preparations for a performance test, the metro rail moves through the track several times inside the depot.
However, on Friday, people witnessed a moving metro rail as the train came out of the depot for the first time and ran slowly on the elevated rail tracks.
The authorities then decided to conduct a formal trial on Sunday.
On May 11, Bangladesh's first-ever electric train was rolled out on the tracks for a test run inside the depot in Uttara, ushering in a new era of electricity-powered trains in the country.
From that day onwards, the authorities had conducted different types of tests inside the depot, which has some 20km of rail tracks. The authorities had also operated the train on a test track for speed tests.
Dhaka Mass Transit Company Ltd (DMTCL) officials said they will start the second phase of the performance test from Pallabi to Mirpur 10 within a couple of months.
Citing experiences of different countries, DMTCL MD Siddique at a press conference in June said that it takes 6-12 months, or even more in some cases, to complete all types of tests of a metro rail system.
However, it may take more time than usual for Dhaka Metro Rail to become fully functional owing to the pandemic-induced slow progress of the project.
Siddique said that after completing all necessary tests, the authorities will go for a trial run before launching the service.
It usually takes up to 10 weeks to complete performance and integrity tests both with and without passengers, he said, before hinting that the metro rail service will be officially launched towards the end of 2022.
The original implementation period of the project was scheduled for 2012-2024. However, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had directed the authorities for early commissioning. She had instructed the officials concerned to make metro services from Uttara to Agargaon operational by 2019, and from Agargaon to Motijheel by 2020.
Failing to meet the deadline, the authorities had decided to open the service by December 2021, before the deadline was extended again this year.
The overall progress of the project was reported to be 68.49% in July this year. The first phase saw 88.18% progress between Uttara and Agargaon and the second phase — from Agargaon to Motijheel — 66.74%.
The first set of metro trains reached Dhaka on April 21 this year and the depot two days later, registering a major development in the project. So far, four sets of metro trains — out of 24 — have reached the country.
Each train has six cars that can carry a maximum of 2,308 people at a time. They were manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd in Japan, according to project officials.
Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Line-6, the country's first metro rail system, is being built at a cost of Tk 21,985 crore.
Once complete, the metro rail — with 16 stations — will be able to carry 60,000 people an hour, reducing travel time from Uttara to Motijheel to around 40 minutes, from about two hours by common transports on regular days.