Circular rail for Dhaka city

Bangladesh Railway has recently carried out a feasibility study to build a 60 km circular rail network around Dhaka city to reduce traffic congestion and provide a more efficient commuting system, both for people in the capital and those from surrounding districts coming into the city.

It is expected that the main construction work will start next year, which will take six years to complete and is estimated to cost $8.37 billion, according to the Ministry of Railway. 

A joint venture company comprises China Railway SIYUAN Survey and Design Group Company Limited and two local firms -- BETS Consulting Services Ltd, and Engineers and Advisors Ltd conducted the feasibility study worth taka 24.56 crore and submitted the draft report to the project authorities recently. 

However, the study was originally scheduled to be completed within one year but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

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. 

Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujon has said that once implemented this project will be more convenient for passengers and it will also reduce Dhaka's traffic congestion.

The minister also asked the project authorities to consider bringing the entire Purbachal area under the network. The circular rail network will facilitate daily inflow of Dhaka bound workers and traders from nearby districts like Gazipur, Manikganj, Munshiganj, Narayanganj, Narsingdi, and Tangail. Using the network, people will be able to move from one end of the capital to another without having to enter the city.

According to the draft feasibility survey report, the 60.69 km long circular railway line will become the existing internal ring road and the eastern bypass dam of the capital. There will be 24 stations on the entire route. Around 10km of the rail track will be underground, while the rest will be elevated; three of the stations will be underground, and the remaining 21 elevated.

The proposed route is Bishwa Ijtema ground-Uttara-Dhaka Zoo-Gabtoli- Mohammadpur-Sadarghat-Postagola-Fatullah-Chashara-Adamjee-Demra-Trimohini- Purbachal-Tongi. 

In addition, Dhaka is one of the busiest cities and one of the fastest growing megacities in the world that serves as the center of political, economic and cultural life in Bangladesh. The existing urban transport system has failed to adapt the city development. 

The rapid population growth rate in Dhaka is 3.2 percent and an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 new migrants, mostly poor, arrive and settle in the city every year. The transport sector of Dhaka city is characterized by horrendous congestion and delays, inadequate traffic management, poor coordination among agencies, and also lack of integration between different transportation modes.

This lack of discipline significantly diminishes the efficiency and effectiveness of the existing transport system and mostly responsible for city's congestion. Even the existing mass transport facilities are not sufficient to keep pace with the growing city population. The Strategic Transport Plan aimed at establishing an integrated environment friendly traffic management system in greater Dhaka to relieve people of the nagging traffic congestion.

Due to traffic jam, people are suffering economically, physically and even mentally. To solve this hazardous travel environment in metropolitan area, the Strategic Transport Plan has been launched with the aim to sidetrack city’s lone dependency on surface transportation system to monorail, metro rail, elevated expressways and inland waterways.