Dhaka-Ctg Rail Link: Project on cards to build chord line
Bangladesh Railway is moving forward with its plan to build a chord line from Dhaka to Cumilla via Narayanganj to shorten the distance between the capital and the port city.
The line will reduce the distance between Dhaka and Chattogram by 90 kilometres and travel time by one-and-a-half hours, say BR officials.
At 320km, the Dhaka-Chattogram rail line, which goes through Tongi-Bhairab-Akhaura-Cumillah-Laksham, is rather drawn-out at present.
Once the new line is built, it could be used as a dedicated line for passengers, with the existing line reserved for freight service.
The BR yesterday got the nod from the cabinet committee on government purchase to hire a consortium of Japan's Oriental Consultant Global, France's EGIS and Malaysia's HSS to carry out the feasibility study and detailed design for the project.
The consortium will carry out the feasibility studies and prepare detailed designs and development project proposals for 11 projects, including the chord line, over 30 months for Tk 193.64 crore.
BR is now aiming to sign the contract with the consulting firm this month, according to Mahbubur Rahman, the project director.
The chord line will bring a significant change in the railway, said BR officials involved with the proceedings.
The feasibility study and detailed design for the chord line will be carried out while keeping the provision of electric traction, meaning it is likely to open a new avenue for BR.
But, discussion for the construction of a chord line went on for decades, with BR carrying out a feasibility study for the project in 2010.
In 2012, the railways ministry even sent a proposal for constructing the line under a public-private partnership. But this did not see much progress due to unknown reasons, the BR officials said.
Asked about the delay, BR Director General Quamrul Ahsan said since it would be a new line, it would require a huge amount of land and money for implementation.
"This caused the delay. But ADB has shown interest in investing in the project, so we are now hopeful of implementing it," he told The Daily Star yesterday.
In June 2020, the government approved the Tk 235.37-crore Technical Assistance Project, with the Asian Development Bank providing Tk 167.14 as a loan for feasibility study and detailed design of the 11 projects.
Apart from the chord line, the consulting firm will carry out the feasibility study and detailed design for a new bridge parallel to the existing century-old Hardinge Bridge over Padma river in BR's western zone.
The Hardinge Bridge, which already recorded 110 years of use and counting, is one of the many structures built by the British empire. The bridge shares a significant history of Bangladesh, and specifically, of Pabna.
The consortium will also prepare a study and detailed design for the construction of a broad gauge (BG) line parallel to the existing Abdulpur-Rajshahi section and Abdulpur-Santahar-Parbatipur section including Abdulpur bypass; construction of a new BG line from Santahar to Amnur in Chapainawabganj; conversion of existing meter gauge (MG) section from Santahar to Lalmonirhat via Bogura, Kaunia into dual gauge (DG) or BG line and building DG or BG line parallel to the existing line; conversion of existing MG line into DG or BG line from Bhairab Bazar to Mymensingh and construction of DG or BG line parallel to the existing MG line; construction of a new BG line parallel to existing Jashore-Benapole line; and conversion of existing MG line into DG line from Bangabandhu Bridge East to Dewanganj Bazar via Tarakandi, Jamalpur, including the construction of Tongi bypass.
The firm will also assess the future demand for rolling stocks, prepare core and non-core business plans for BR and carry out a need analysis for establishing a signalling training centre for BR, among others.