Various projects, including the construction of flyovers and special bus lanes, have been implemented or are being implemented to reduce traffic jams in Dhaka city. However, metro rail is seen as the most effective in modern urban planning and public transport. Moreover, Metro rail is admired in the developed world for its ease of traffic and rapid transportation of large numbers of passengers. With that in mind, the Bangladesh government has planned to build six metro rails to ease traffic jams in Dhaka. Although a portion of the Dhaka metro rail project was supposed to be finished in 2019-20, the new date is set for December 2021.
Dhaka metro rail update
According to the latest update, metro rail will be launched from Uttara to Agargaon on the 51st victory day. With this goal in mind, in the meantime, the preparations are underway; coaches have started coming from Japan. In the first phase, 6 coaches have already reached Dhaka on April 21, 2021. Further, on May 11, the wheel of the metro rail project ran on a test basis at the Metrorail depot in the Uttara Diabari area.
Three months later, in August this year, the performance test will be started on the mainline above the viaduct. The integrated test will be performed after the performance test on the viaduct is completed. Then the trial runs.
The overall average progress of the construction of the first metro rail in Bangladesh is about 64 percent. As per the initial construction plan, 85% of the third phase of the Uttara to Agargaon part is done. The progress of the second phase construction work from Agargaon to Motijheel section is about 60% completed. Moreover, the integrated progress of the electrical and mechanical system, rolling stock, and depot equipment procurement work is 55%.
The number of metro rails in Dhaka
According to the government's revised metro rail plan, 131 km of metro rail is needed to keep Dhaka and its surrounding suburbs operational. According to that, the government plans to build a total of six metro rails by 2030. These will be implemented in three phases.
MRT 6: Uttara to Motijheel
It will take 36 minutes to travel from Uttara to Motijheel by metro rail MRT 6. It will be able to transport 60,000 passengers in two directions per hour. The cost of the MRT 6 project has been estimated at Tk 21,985 crore. Of this, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is providing Tk 16,594 crore. The Bangladesh government will pay the rest. The project was approved in December 2012. The loan agreement was signed with JICA in February 2013, and the duration of the project is till 2024.
There will be 16 stations from Uttara to Motijheel. Initially, metro rail is to be launched with 24 trains. Each train will initially have six bogies and have plans to increase it to eight later. According to preliminary estimates, it will be able to transport 4 lakh 83 thousand passengers a day in the beginning. In 2035, the number of passengers will increase to more than 16 lakh. The remaining five metro rails will be underground and flyovers to connect Dhaka and its suburbs. Two of these projects have been approved.
MRT 1: Airport to Kamalapur and Purbachal
The length of metro rail Line-1 from the airport to Kamalapur is 31 km. Of this, 19 km will be by subway or underground. The remaining 12 kilometers will be elevated or on the ground. There will be a total of 19 stations on this route. The total cost of the project will be Tk 51,900 crore. Of this, the loan from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will be Tk 33,914 crore. The remaining Tk 18,096 crore will be provided from the state exchequer. The airport-Kamalapur project will have two routes. One will be from the airport to Kamalapur, while the other one from Natunbazar to Purbachal. The airport route will go directly to Kamalapur. And the Purbachal route will go to Purbachal from Notunbazar.
According to DMTCL, it currently takes two hours by road from the airport to Kamalapur. However, this route will take only 24 minutes to cross via the metro rail. Besides, it will take 36 minutes to go from Kamalapur to Purbachal by metro train. Hence, this will save a lot of time for the Dhaka people.
MRT 5: Northern route and southern route
The total cost of the Metro Rail Line-5 project has been estimated at Tk 41,261 crore. Of this, JICA will give a loan of Tk 30,756 crores, and 10,505 crores will be provided from the state treasury. DMTCL has promised to complete the project in December 2027. The length of this route will be 20 kilometers which will start from Hemayetpur in Savar and end at Bhatara through the cantonment.
Out of 20 kilometers, 14 kilometers will be the subway. The remaining six kilometers are elevated or flyovers. There will be 14 stations, 9 will be under the ground and five above the ground. Starting from Hemayetpur, it will go to Baliarpur, Madhumati, Amin Bazar, Gabtali, Darussalam, Mirpur-1, Mirpur-10, Mirpur-14, Kachukhet, Banani, Gulshan-2, New Bazar and end at Bhatara.
MRT 2: Gabtali to Chittagong Road
Under MRT Line-2, by 2030, about 24 km long metro rail will be constructed from Gabtali to Chittagong Road with the underground and elevated combination. A Memorandum of understanding was signed between the Governments of Japan and Bangladesh in 2017. The possible layout of this line is Gabtali-Basila-Mohammadpur-BRTC Bus Stand-Satmasjid Road-Jhigatala-Dhanmondi No. 2 Road-Sciencelab-Newmarket-Nilkhet-Azimpur-Palashi-Shaheed Minar-Dhaka Medical College-Police Headquarters-Golap Shah Mazar- north side of Banga Bazar-Motijheel-Arambagh-Kamalapur-Mugda-Mera-Chittagong Road.
Even in this coronavirus pandemic, the government is working hard to complete the construction of the country's first metro rail on the golden jubilee of independence. After last week's test, it is evident that the county will certainly see the inauguration of Uttara to the Agargaon route at the end of this year. However, we may need to wait for 8-9 more years to see the completion of other projects.