Train journeys to and from Chittagong are to be faster as a 61-kilometre double-line, between Laksham and Chinki Astana, and the remodelled Chittagong Railway Station yard is set to open today.
According to officials of the railways ministry, the travel time between Dhaka and Chittagong would be 30 minutes shorter due the new line.
From today, 153km of the 321km Dhaka-Chittagong route would be double-line.
The number of trains running between the capital and the port city would increase up to 70 with this boost in line capacity. Now, 36 trains run between Dhaka and Chittagong.
The officials believe trains would be able to maintain schedules better since they would travel up to 100kmph on the new line.
Though the new double line is meter gauge, it has the provision for transformation into dual gauge, on which broad gauge and meter gauge trains can ply.
The double line was installed as part of a sub-project of Dhaka-Chittagong Railway Development Project aimed at increasing frequency and establishing faster railway connectivity between the two cities.
Construction of the Tk 1,749-crore Laksham-Chinki Astana double line started on November 2, 2011, and completed on March 31, 2015.
Eight major bridges, 45 culverts, four new station buildings, 13 new platforms, eight footbridges and 13 level crossings had been built. Computerised interlinking signalling system at 11 stations and central traffic control with telecommunications facilities at 12 stations have also been introduced under the project.
Construction of additional three loop, one-shade platforms, triangle train line for moving the engines have also been done along with refurbishing 800 metres of rail lines between the station yard and Pahartali station under the Chittagong Station Yard Remodelling Project.
Around 50 pairs of trains would be able to move after construction of the new station yard. This would increase operational facilities, according to the officials.
Project Director of the two projects SM Liaqat Ali said the projects, costing over Tk 2,000 crore, had been completed on time.
“With the inauguration of the new double line, at least 30 minutes would be saved for Dhaka-Chittagong intercity trains, one hour for local trains and two hours for freight trains as there will be no stoppages at stations for crossings,” he observed.
Ali, also one of the general managers of Bangladesh Railways, said the projects had been implemented by local Max Group. “It is a milestone that a local company has developed the capacity to build rail lines of international standards,” he added.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is set to inaugurate the new double-line and the remodelled Chittagong station yard via a videoconference with Railways Minister Md Mazibul Hoque at 5:00pm from Gono Bhaban.
The minister along with Director General Md Amzad Hossain and Project Director SM Liaqat Ali would be at Laksham junction.
She would also open the foundation stone for the construction of a 72km Laksham-Akhaura dual-gauge double-line and transformation of the existing line into dual-gauge. This would be done with joint financing by the Asian Development Bank, European Investment Bank and the Government of Bangladesh.
The construction work would begin in October this year and is expected to be finished in four years, SK Chakraborty, general manager and project director, told The Daily Star.