Dhaka Metro Rail: Rolling out in the open on Sunday
The authorities are all set to conduct a test run of a metro train on the main tracks on Sunday, touching a new milestone in the country's first ever metro rail project.
On that day, the first set of the metro train would come out of its depot for the first time and run on the elevated rail tracks. City dwellers will be able to see it from outside the project area.
"All types of tests inside the depot have already been completed. Now the performance test of the first metro train will begin on the viaduct on August 29," said MAN Siddique, managing director of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Ltd, which is implementing the project.
"We have completed almost all preparations for the performance test and will be fully prepared for the test run within the next two days," he told The Daily Star yesterday.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader will be present at the "Ceremonial Demonstration of First Ever Metro Train Running on the Viaduct" to be held at 10:00am Sunday, he said.
City dwellers, however, may have to wait more than a year to ride the metro train as delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic forced the project authorities to revise some of its plans.
The authorities now want to make at least the first stretch -- Uttara to Agargaon -- of the 20.10km metro rail line operational by December next year.
Mass Rapid Transit Line-6 or MRT-6, the country's first metro rail system, is being built from the capital's Uttara to Motijheel at a cost of Tk 21,985 crore.
Once complete, the metro rail -- with 16 stations -- will be able to carry 60,000 people an hour, reducing travel time from Uttara to Motijheel to around 40 minutes. The journey now takes about two hours on a regular day.
The overall progress of the fast-track project was 68.49 percent till July this year. The first phase saw 88.18 percent progress and the second phase -- from Agargaon to Motijheel -- 66.74 percent. The installation of tracks and other equipment and procurement of cars saw 60.66 percent progress, according to the project's monthly progress report.
The first set of the metro trains reached Dhaka on April 21 and the depot two days later, registering a major development in the project.
Each train has six cars that can carry a maximum 2,308 people at a time. It was manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd in Japan, said officials.
Bangladesh's first ever electricity train was rolled out on the tracks on a test run inside the depot in the city's Diabari on May 11. With that, the country entered a new era of electricity-powered trains, said officials. Currently, all the conventional trains here run on diesel.
From that day, the authorities began the performance test and continued it inside the depot, which has some 20 kilometres of tracks. The authorities also operated the train on a test track for speed tests.
The authorities then asked officials concerned to prepare the first five stations in Uttara North, Uttara Center, Uttara South, Pallabi and Mirpur-11 for the test run.
However, the performance test would be carried out involving the first four stations as there is turnout point at the Pallabi station, officials aware of developments told this newspaper.
The Mirpur-11 station will also be prepared as when the train will reach the Pallabi station, it will get power from the power sub-station at Mirpur-11, they said.
"The train would be operated between the four stations slowly," an official said, wishing not to be named.
The project is being implemented under eight packages.
Of them, packages 3 and 4 are being used for building viaduct from Uttara to Agargaon while package 7 is for maintaining electrical and mechanical systems and package 8 for storing rolling stock (rail coach) and depot equipment.
People involved with these four packages are passing busy hours to make the performance test successful, the officials said.
So far, four sets of metro trains -- out of 24 – have reached the country.
Meanwhile, the DMTCL authority, with MAN Siddque in the chair, held a meeting yesterday with the consultants of all eight packages and the team leaders to make Sunday's programme a success, they added.
FIRST PHASE OPERATION LIKELY IN DECEMBER 2022
Talking to The Daily Star on May 11, MAN Siddique said after the performance test on rail tracks on the viaduct, they would go for the integrity test.
During the integrity test, they will check whether synchronisation of everything was done properly and whether they were ready to go for a trial run, he said.
Citing experience of different countries, he said it takes six months to a year, even more in some cases, to complete all these tests.
After completion of all tests, the authorities will go for a trail run before launching the service. "It may take up to 10 weeks to complete both tests with and without passengers," he added.
The original implementation period of the project was 2012-2024. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina later directed that metro services from Uttara to Agargaon be made operational by 2019, and from Agargaon to Motijheel by 2020.
Failing to meet the deadline, the authorities in May 2019 said the services would be launched on December 16 this year as the country celebrates the golden jubilee of its independence.
But Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in his budget speech on June 3 this year said activities were underway to start passenger transport in the Uttara-Agargaon section of metro by December 2022.
MAN Siddique, taking part at the magazine programme Ityadi on July 30, also said: "We hope that the Dhaka city dweller would be able to use the first phase -- Uttara Diabari to Agargaon -- of metro rail from December 2022."
When this correspondent asked him about the deadline yesterday, MAN Siddique said the road transport and bridges minister would reveal the information formally.