Land development work of the depot had been completed nine months before the scheduled time, Obaidul Quader says
Bangladesh entered a new era on Tuesday - the age of electric trains.
Dhaka Metro Rail brought out its new train for display in Uttara and conducted a short low-speed run for spectacle.
The country’s first electric train crossed 500 metres (on ground level) with six coaches during the trial run at the Diabari depot at around 12 noon at a speed of 5kmh, according to media reports.
A driver from the Kawasaki-Mitsubishi Consortium drove the Mass Rapid Transit Line-6 (MRT-6) train to the unloading zone from a workshop. When commissioned, the trains will run at a speed of 100kmh.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader inaugurated the metro rail test run virtually. It was organized by the Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL).
Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Naoki Ito and high officials of the department concerned and ministry were present at the test site.
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“Now metro rail is not a dream any more but a reality. At the same time, Bangladesh has entered the era of electric trains through this metro rail,” Quader said.
He said metro rail performance test will begin on the mainline on the viaduct in August next, while the trial run of the train will start after an integrated test.
The minister said the land development work of the depot had been completed nine months before the scheduled time, saving Tk70.58 crore of the government.
“The overall progress of physical works of the depot is now 88% while viaduct erection works of 14.41km out of 20.10km have been completed,” he said.
He said the construction works of 16 metro-rail stations was going on while railway track installation works inside the depot had been completed, 10.50km railway track had already been installed on viaduct and “Overhead Catenary Wire” installation works over viaduct inside the depot and up to Agargaon was going on.
The minister said the second set of metro trains reached Mongla Port on May 9.
The minister stated that progress in the second phase (Agargaon to Motijheel) was 59.7% while overall progress in procurement of electrical and mechanical system, rolling stock, and depot equipment was 54.4%.
Road Transport and Highways Division Secretary Md Nazrul Islam, Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL) MAN Siddique, metro rail line-6 project director Md Aftab Uddin Talukder, officials concerned of Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) and DMTCL were also present on the occasion.
The project is being implemented at a cost of Tk22,000 crore.
The country’s first metro rail is expected to become operational next year. An estimated 60,000 passengers will travel per hour on the route from 6am to 10pm, amounting to 960,000 people using the metro rail every day.
The original length of the metro rail route was 20.1 km to Motijheel, but it has now been extended by 1.16km to Kamalapur Railway Station. As a result, the number of stations has increased to 16.
There will be a total of 16 stations on the 21km route of MRT Line 6, with waiting time of approximately four minutes.
The stations will be located at Uttara North, Uttara Center, Uttara South, Pallabi, Mirpur 11, Mirpur 10, Kazipara, Shewrapara, Agargaon, Bijoy Sarani, Farmgate, Karwan Bazar, Shahbagh, Dhaka University, Bangladesh Secretariat, and Motijheel.
The first shipment of metro rail coaches from Japan arrived in Dhaka on April 21.
Kawasaki-Mitsubishi Consortium of Japan started the construction of the 24 sets of the metro train with six coaches each, and another rescue train for the MRT-6 project in April 2019, under a Tk2,870 crore deal signed in 2017. The deal is valid until December next year.
The coaches are made of reusable aluminium alloy and bulletproof glass.
Besides, the compartments, weighing 22-28 tons, are about three metres in width and 20 metres in length, and have long-line seating arrangements. Two of the six coaches are air-conditioned and each coach has four doors for passengers.
At the same time, regenerative electric brakes are being used in the metro trains which will be operated through using an automated radio communication system, even without any driver.
A total of 13.80km of the viaduct has been installed with the rail track installation inside the depot already completed.
Hopes for operation by end of this year
The government hopes to begin operations on the Uttara-Agargaon route by the end of this year, but it may face a delay due to the latest Covid-19 upsurge across the country.
The DMTCL is considering a fare of Tk2.4 per kilometre of travel on Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) route 6, stretching from Uttara to Kamalapur.
The total fare for a full trip on the 20.1km route will stand at Tk40.25 if the rate is adopted.