The long-awaited “Chattogram (Dohazari)-Cox’s Bazar Rail Line Project” is nearing completion and set to be inaugurated by the end of October, according to officials close to the project.
Test runs are also anticipated for mid-October, dispelling earlier concerns about timely completion due to significant flood damage in South Chattogram last August.
Project Director MdMofizurRahmantold the Daily Sun that the fast-track mega project has made substantial progress, reaching about 88 percent completion thus far.
“Work on the stations and other elements is in full swing. Out of the total 100 kilometres of new tracks, just five kilometres in various locations remain incomplete.” Rahman expressed optimism that these would be completed by the first week of October, weather permitting.
Six out of nine total stations are also slated for completion ahead of the trial run. Construction of the remaining three stations and the signalling systems is expected to be done by December.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to formally inaugurate the project in the last week of October. Following the inauguration, commercial operations will commence under the oversight of the concerned railway department, Rahman noted.
Jahangir Hossain, General Manager of Railway (East), shared plans to initially operate trains along the Dhaka-Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar and Sylhet-Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar, as well as Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar routes.
However, he stated that specific details, including the number of trains and their timings, are yet to be finalised.
“The exact date for the start of commercial operations will be decided upon the completion of the remaining project work,” said Hossain.
The construction of the modern, six-storey, oyster-shaped station building at Cox’s Bazar headquarters is also nearing completion, with around 90 percent of the work already done.
The expansive station, sprawled over 29 acres of land, will feature a star-rated hotel, a shopping mall, a restaurant, commercial spaces, and luggage lockers for travellers. The ground and first floors will be allocated for railway operational activities and are scheduled to be handed over to the authorities before the inauguration.
Rahman further confirmed that the flood-damaged tracks in Satkania, Chandanish, and Lohagaraupazilas of South Chattogram have already been repaired, ensuring that the project remains on track for its planned inauguration.
In addition to the rapid progress on the main track, repair work on the ageing Kalurghat Bridge, an essential part of the Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar route, is also underway.
Train services between Chattogram city and Dohazari in Chandanishupazila have been temporarily suspended to facilitate these repairs. Notably, a six-compartment train has been stationed at Patiya for the trial run on the new route.
While the original plan aimed for a December launch, the Railway Minister’s announcement of an earlier start date has accelerated the pace of work.
The project, officially titled ‘Construction of Single Line Dual-Gauge Railway Track from Dohazari to Cox’s Bazar via Ramu and Ramu to Ghumdhum near Myanmar’, is considered a high-priority government initiative.
The railway line spans approximately 154 kilometres from Chattogram to Cox’s Bazar, building on an existing 54-kilometre track between Chattogram and Dohazari. Currently, the main artery connecting the beach city to the rest of Bangladesh is the Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar highway, which struggles to manage the heavy flow of tourists and goods.
The railway project aims to mitigate these issues, offering safer, more convenient, and cost-effective transportation options for both locals and tourists, as well as enhancing the efficient transport of agricultural products.
The existing metre-gauge line from Chattogram to Dohazari was initially surveyed by the Myanmar Railway between 1917 and 1919. However, the track was never extended to Ramu due to interruptions from World War II.
The first phase of the current project will establish a 100-kilometre track from Dohazari to Cox’s Bazar via Ramu, followed by a 28-kilometre track from Ramu to Ghumdhum in the second phase. Additionally, the first phase includes the construction of a 39-kilometre loop line, 39 major bridges, 145 minor bridges and culverts, 96 level crossings, three highway crossings, and nine new stations.
The total cost of the project is approximately Tk 180.34 billion, with funding provided by the government and the Asian Development Bank. CREC-Tama JV and CCECC-Max JV are serving as project contractors.
The project, conceived six years ago, was formally initiated in 2016 and now stands tantalisingly close to becoming a transformative reality for transportation in the country.
Source: The Daily SUN.