POST TIME: 4 July, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Dhaka-Chattogram high-speed trains

Dhaka-Chattogram high-speed trains

It is encouraging to note that 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 the route. According to a report of this newspaper yesterday, Railways Minister Mujibul Haque said recently that once the high speed trains are pressed into the service, expectedly by 2025, passengers on this route would be able to avail trains once 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. Eight pairs of high-speed trains will run between Dhaka and Chattogram, each containing 10 coaches and two engines in front and back of the trains.

Being the commercial capital of the country the importance of Chattogram is immense. Thousands of people travel between Dhaka and Chattogram for various purposes everyday. The four-lane Dhaka-Chattogram highway failed to serve the purpose although the project cost an astronomical amount of money. Successive governments have failed to ease the communication between Dhaka and Chattogram. Frequent accidents on the highway are the additional hazards that the commuters are facing. Against this backdrop, the plan to introduce high-speed trains on the route is quite encouraging.

The existing Dhaka-Chittagong rail link runs for 320km through Tongi, Bhairab, Akhaura, Comilla and Feni, with journey times ranging from 7-10 hours. The high-speed train, however, will run on a special track to be laid through Narayanganj, Comilla, Laksham and Feni, cutting the travel distance by over a third to 200km. The service is also expected to be more comfortable and time-saving. The project will be implemented under a government-to-government (G2G) agreement with China at an estimated cost of Tk 50,000 crore.

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.

The high-speed train project is important as it will mobilise trade and tourism. In its 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. It is expected that the relevant authorities will implement the project in due time. There should also be transparency and accountability in the works of the project.