A total of 88% of the 101km railway from Dohazari (Chattogram) to Cox’s Bazar has been completed. The remaining work is scheduled for completion this month.
However, the first experimental train will be launched from Chattogram’s Dohazari to Cox's Bazar on October 15. The trial train has already arrived at Patiya railway station of Chattogram.
The six carriages of the train brought from Korea have 60 seats per carriage and a 2200 series heavy engine. Construction of 251 culverts including 39 bridges and underpasses has been completed on the railway from Dohazari-Chakaria-Cox's Bazar.
However, nine new stations including the iconic station at Cox's Bazar have been constructed in this mega project of Chittagong-Cox's Bazar passenger train operation. No establishment has been created for the police force engaged in the security of railway passengers and property.
Cox’s Bazar Rail Line Project Additional Project Director Engineer Muhammad Abul Kalam Chowdhury confirmed this.
He said that the date of inauguration depends on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's timing. Due to the shortage of manpower, engines and coaches, the Eastern Railway has proposed to run only one pair of trains initially. A train will go from Dhaka to Cox's Bazar via Chattogram. The train will leave Dhaka at night and reach Cox's Bazar next morning. That train will return to Dhaka the next day.
He also said that the experimental trial train from Dohazari will be inaugurated on October 15. Meanwhile, other work will be completed. The trial train is kept at Patiya station.
The trial train from Patia will be kept with Dohazari on the day before the trial. However, December passenger trains may start.
At present, six inter-city trains run between Dhaka and Chattogram. Two proposals have already been sent to the railway building by the Eastern Railway to determine the timing of the train. Train movement will start on any one of these. However, the fare has not been fixed yet.
According to railway information, work on the project started in 2010 but will be completed by mid-2024. The cost of implementing the project is more than 18 thousand 34 crore taka. Trains will run at a speed of 100-120 km per hour from Chattogram. It is possible to run trains at 140 km per hour on the newly constructed Dohazari-Cox's Bazar railway line. Trains made with new coaches purchased from China will run on this route. 20 axle load trains of these trains are not suitable for running on Kalurghat Bridge. The Railways has signed an agreement with the contractor Max Infrastructure to renovate the bridge at a cost of Tk 43 crore.
The additional project director said that the commercial passenger transport will go only after the trial run, so it may take two to three months. However, I will try to start trains on this railway in December. Stations at Dohazari, Satkania, Lohagara, Harbang, Chakria, Dulahazra, Islamabad, Ramu and Cox's Bazar will have Computer Based Interlock Signal System and Digital Telecommunication System. Kalurghat Bridge is undergoing rapid renovation for train movement from Chattogram to Cox's Bazar. This will make the bridge stronger. For this reason, all types of vehicles will be closed on this bridge in the month of October.
Its known that in 2010, when ECNEC was approved, the cost of construction of 128 km railway from Dohazari in Chattogram via Ramu to Cox's Bazar and from Ramu to Ghumdhum near Myanmar was estimated at 1 thousand 852 crores. Before the work of this project started in 2016, after the detailed design, the project cost increased toTk 18 thousand 34 crore. But despite the exorbitant cost overruns, the project has been accused of substandard work and various irregularities.
The concerned officials said that the cost of construction of 100.83 km railway from Dohazari to Cox's Bazar via Ramu is 15 thousand 476 crore 36 lakh taka. The cost per kilometer is 153 crore 49 lakh taka. The potential construction cost of the Ramu-Ghumdhum section of the project is Tk 2,558 crore. The first package up to Dohazari-Chakaria is jointly implemented by China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) and Tama Construction of Bangladesh. China Certification and Inspection Company (CCECC) and Max Infrastructure of Bangladesh are jointly working on the second package of Chakria-Ramu-Cox's Bazar section.
Recently, due to heavy rains and floods caused by landslides, rocks and soil were washed away in a part of the railway line under construction on the Chattogram-Cox's Bazar route. Local residents complained about irregularities in railway construction and renovation.
Moreover, important things like police stations and police outposts have not been kept in this mega project. Due to lack of proper planning, the issue of police station and outpost was not noticed.
Chattogram Railway Police said, it was proposed to build two police stations and five outposts along the entire railway line up to Dohazari-Cox's Bazar in this project, but there was no opportunity to build these facilities. However, we are working to ensure safety in train movement. A committee was formed in this regard.
The committee also includes representatives of the Chief Commercial Officer, Transport, Additional Project Director, and Land Estate Department. He said that the project stakeholders will take further action as per the recommendations of the committee.