The Financial Express

Detailing Dhaka\'s metro rail

Shihab Sarkar | Published: December 05, 2015 22:46:27 | Updated: October 24, 2017 05:12:31

Detailing Dhaka\'s metro rail
Around a couple of months after the launch of the work of Dhaka's metro rail project, its next phase began last week. Like the previous one, the present one is also focused on a number of geotechnical tests, including those related to stress and topography.
This time around, the people appear to be least interested to ask others about the return of the construction teams along with newer tools. The workers and technical staff are occupying wider space now. But it has not eluded the public that the mid-road work is causing temporary traffic snarls, prompting many to feel a little piqued. The notice placed at the sites is crisp and short. It just says work on the metro rail is on. With lots of the people in dark about the details of this new rail service, and others making wild speculations, the project has turned veritably into a great enigma. People these days hardly bother to delve into the newspaper reports dealing with Dhaka's ambitious mass rapid transit (MRT) project, being executed largely on a soft loan from Japan. Then again, few outlets in the local electronic media have been seen adequately focusing on this project undertaken by the government to ease the city's debilitating traffic congestions.
It is high time the authorities came up with continuous updates telling people about the project with all its small details. Or else, when the massive work of building heavy concrete and steel structures will start rolling, public irritation might crop up. Worse, it might also snowball into disillusionment. Vested interests always bide time to manipulate an edgy situation like this.
The MRT authorities are expecting to complete the first phase of the metro rail project by 2019. They hope to see the metro service commissioned on the 20-kilometre stretch between Uttara and Motijheel by the year of 2024. The rail service will run on viaducts having 16 elevated stations. The concept is completely new to this country. Thanks to its novelty, it needs to be explained clearly to the general people. They might become gullible to knee-jerk reactions in times of the higher pitches of the project's work. It ought to be made clear and transparent that the traffic jams and the impediments to traffic movement during the work are temporary; all this is aimed at banishing traffic snarls from Dhaka once and for all.
Why the MRT authorities have not yet embarked on a publicity campaign on its grand $2.5 billion project is puzzling. Leaving aside the technical nitty-gritty, they can just tell the city dwellers that it will be an elevated railway system. It will connect Uttara with Motijheel in only 38 minutes, whereas it now takes more than two hours by buses and cars to cover the 20-km distance during peak hours on a working day. The publicity texts could also include some basic facts: the overhead metro rail service will operate 24 trains, which will carry 60,000 passengers an hour, thus cutting the number of private cars drastically.
Many people acquainted with this mode of railway are still ignorant about the exact nature of Dhaka's service. Metro rails operate in many cities around the world, such as Delhi, Singapore or New York. They use both overhead and conventional surface tracks. People are eager to know about the exact nature of the tracks chosen for Dhaka's metro rail.
Due to their speedy movement along viaduct lines, a high level of noise goes with the service in many cities. The MRT authorities have said the service in Dhaka will be equipped with noise barriers, and that the trains will run on vibration-free tracks. They need to lay emphasis on the service's environment-friendliness.

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