The plan to run Dhaka-Chattogram high-speed train is going to see light, as the government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently decided to go ahead with the transportation system, officials said on Friday.
The ADB agreed to support the ambitious project for connecting the country's business capital with the administrative capital, the Ministry of Railways (MoR) officials said.
They said the Bangladesh Railway (BR) decided in principle to construct a dedicated cord-line between the two cities for operating trains at a speed of 160km/hour, they added.
Presided over by Fatima Yesmin, the Economic Relations Division (ERD) Secretary, a meeting was held early this month, where the government and the ADB agreed to conduct a feasibility study and detailed design for the cord-line.
Finance Secretary Abdur Rouf Talukder, Railways Secretary Selim Reza, and the ADB country director in Bangladesh attended the meeting, among others.
Selim Reza told the FE that they planned to construct a dedicated line for high-speed train service between Dhaka and Chattogram. It is likely to be built now, as the ADB has come forward with its assurance of investment.
He said: "The train line will be a cord-line for reducing the travel time between the port-city and the capital. Primarily, we have decided to set up the cord-line, which will be run by electricity."
"The meeting early this month directed us to go for a feasibility study for the planned high-speed railway line. After the study, we will come to know about the feasible ways for the line construction."
The railways secretary noted that they had a plan to set up a fresh dedicated broad-gauge track on Dhaka-Narayanganj-Laksham - bypassing the existing line - through Brahmanbaria and Comilla, resulting in a reduction of some 100 kilometres of travel distance.
Currently, the distance from Dhaka to Chittagong through train service is about 321 km, as the track runs through Narayanganj-Brahmanbaria-Comilla-Laksham.
"If we can set up a 100-km dedicated line between Dhaka and Lakhsam, the distance will drop to 221 km. In that case, the train travel time between Dhaka and Chittagong will be less than two hours," Mr Reza opined.
"The ADB has assured us of financing the feasibility study and detailed design of the proposed railway line," he added.
Meanwhile, Edimon Ginting, the newly-appointed ADB country director in Bangladesh, would meet the railways secretary on October 19, when the planned Dhaka-Chittagong railway cord-line would be discussed, MoR officials said.
The ADB country director would also discuss about the ongoing ADB-funded railway sector projects and their implementation status, they added.
The ADB in the last meeting said they had supported high-speed train system in China, and it is also interested to support Bangladesh to set up such a line, a senior ERD official said.
The ADB is very much interested to finance the Dhaka-Chittagong cord-line, which would have a provision to be expanded up to tourism city Cox's Bazar, he mentioned.
The BR took the initiative to launch high-speed train on Dhaka-Chittagong route in early 2018.