Bangladesh set to press on with $8.4bn circle line for capital

Bangladesh Railway (BR) has completed a feasibility study for an 81km railway around the capital, Dhaka, intended to ease the city’s crippling traffic congestion. Preparations are under way to begin the project.

The study, carried out by BR with consultancy provided by China Railway Siyun Survey and Design Group, had been put on hold in March after 12 of its 13 Chinese engineers were stranded in their home city of Wuhan by the coronavirus.

Monirul Islam Firozi, the project director, told The Daily Star news site: "We will give a presentation of the study at a meeting in the presence of the railways minister soon. The report will then be finalised incorporating all the opinions."

It is estimated that the line will cost $8.4bn to build, and will take six years to complete. The plan is to build it using a public-private procurement route. So far, Chinese, Japanese and South Korean firms have expressed an interest in being involved in the financing and construction of the project.

The line will follow a route along the city’s existing inner ring road, with 24 stations, 11 of which will act as interchanges with other transport modes. About 10km of the track will be underground, with  the rest elevated.

The new line will be integrated with the Dhaka MRT metro system, currently being constructed by the Italian-Thai Development PLC. The first line of this system is expected to be complete in 2022.

The circular railway was first mooted in September 2018, when the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchases approved the Railway Ministry’s proposal to set up a public-private partnership deal for "a circular railway around Dhaka City".

The main aim of the railway is to reduce congestion in Dhaka. A recent report from the Accident Research Institute found that the average speed of vehicles during rush hours was 5km/h.

Image: The circular railway is intended to ease Dhaka’s crippling traffic congestion (Dreamstime)

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