Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar rail line

Bright prospects for economy beckon

Over 54 percent work of the much-expected Chattogram-Cox's Bazar railway line has already been completed as the railway ministry is expecting to wrap up the mega 120km dual-gauge passenger line by December, 2022.

"Construction work of the railway line is progressing fast maintaining all health instructions . . . We're very much hopeful of making the line ready for operating train on the route on December 16 in 2022," said Railways Minister Nurul Islam.

He said, "The civil work of the project and land development and construction of some minor bridges have already been completed."

Project director Md Mofizur Rahman said the construction company is setting up rail sleepers from Dohazari part.

"Construction of an oyster-shape rail-station at Cox's Bazar Sadar is progressing fast," he added.  

The project is one of the seven investment sub-projects undertaken by the Bangladesh Railway (BR) to improve the country’s rail connectivity with other Asian nations, including Myanmar and Thailand.

Chattogram-Cox's Bazar railway line is being constructed from Dohazari village in south-east Bangladesh to Cox's Bazar, one of the country's most popular tourist hubs.

The estimated investment for the project is $2.013 billion, which includes $512m provided by the government from its own sources, according to the project.

ADB is providing a loan of $1.5 billion for the project. The first tranche of the loan of approximately $300m was released by ADB in June 2017, while the second tranche of $400m was released in May 2019. The government added $50m to ADB’s second tranche.

The Export-Import Bank of Korea is providing a loan of $99.04 million.

Railways Ministry informed that the project is a part of Trans-Asian Railway (TAR) network and it will improve access to Myanmar and beyond. The project is endorsed by the South Asia Sub regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC).

The project generates employment for approximately 3,500 workers in local communities. It will also enhance trade and tourism in the southern-most parts of the country.

The project’s second phase, the rail line will be extended to the Myanmar border, as well as a planned deep-sea port on Matarbari Island," he added.

A total of eight new stations will be built for the new alignment, in addition to an existing station at Dohazari. The existing station will be demolished to construct a new facility on the opposite side of the tracks, while 2km of existing tracks near the Dohazari station will be renovated, according to the project paper.

The line will cross the Sangu River, south of Dohazari.

The official said stations will be equipped with relay batteries, generator rooms, sewage and waste management facilities, and energy-saving features such as solar panels. They will feature separate facilities for women, children, elderly and the disabled, he said.

A total of 183 water crossings, including 39 minor bridges and 144 culverts, will be constructed along the new alignment. Six large bridges will be constructed over the Sangu, Matamuhuri and Bakkhali rivers, as well as the Idgaon Chara tributary.

Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar railway project is expected to connect the national and sub-regional railway networks for the first time.

The new line will connect Cox’s Bazar district to sub-regional markets in order to enhance trade. By providing intermodal facilities for passengers and freight, the project will also improve connections to Myanmar.

With dual-gauge tracks, the project will offer connections to western Bangladesh and India, where most of the railways are broad-gauge, and towards north-eastern India and Southeast Asia, which primarily offer meter-gauge tracks.

"The project helps Bangladesh to meet its targets under its 7th Five-Year Plan and its railway master plan, which aims to raise the country’s freight market share to 15 percent and its passenger market share to 10 percent," said the ministry official.  

The construction of the project has been divided into two lots, Lot 1 and Lot 2. The contract for Lot 1 was awarded to a joint venture (JV) of China Railway Engineering Group (CREC) and Toma Group, while Lot 2 was awarded to a JV of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and Max Group. Both the contracts were awarded in September 2017.