Tuesday, June 18, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Cox’s Bazar to come under railway network

  • Distance: 100.83km
  • Cost: Tk18,034 crore
  • Land acquired: 1,365 acres
  • Rail stations: 9
Update : 11 Nov 2023, 12:02 AM

Prime Minister Sheikh is going to inaugurate the long-awaited Dohazari-Cox’s Bazar rail line on Saturday, with commercial operation set to begin on December 1.

With this inauguration, rail connectivity with the beach city will finally be implemented, 133 years after the first initiative was taken during the British period, before the birth of Bangladesh.

The minimum fare will be Tk188 from Dhaka to Cox's Bazar on a mail train when the services are fully operational, and on an intercity train, the minimum fare will be Tk500, according to the proposed plan.

Cox's Bazar, which has the largest sea beach in the world, previously had road, sea, and air connectivity, but starting tomorrow, rail connectivity will be inaugurated for domestic passengers, and there is a plan to extend this rail track to China through Myanmar in the future for better regional connectivity

133 years in the offing

Railway officials said that in 1890, during the British period in the greater Indian subcontinent, the first plan to build a railway from Chittagong to Cox's Bazar and to Akyab Port in Myanmar (formerly Burma) was made. Later, from 1917 to 1921, a total of 50km of railway was built from Chittagong to Dohazari. However, the start of World War I stopped the railway construction in its tracks.

After the British era ended in the greater Indian subcontinent and Bangladesh was liberated in 1971 from Pakistan, no government took any effective initiative to build rail connectivity with the beach city of Cox's Bazar.

Finally, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina decided to launch the first project in 2010 to establish the Dohazari-Ramu-Cox's Bazar-Ghundhum railway. Initially, the scope of the project included the construction of a single-line dual-gauge track from Dohazari to Ramu to Cox's Bazar and from Ramu to Gumdhum, aiming to build a total of 129.58km of railway. However, the work on the Ramu to Gumdhum portion was postponed.

Now, the construction of a 100.83-kilometre railway from Chittagong's Dohazari to Cox's Bazar via Ramu has been completed. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) provided a loan of Tk13,115 crore for the Tk18,034 crore project, with the remaining Tk4,119 crore funded from the government's own funds. 1,365 acres of land were acquired in Cox's Bazar district for the project.

Nine railway stations, four major and 47 minor bridges, 149 box culverts, and 52 round culverts have been constructed under the project. The rail track includes several culverts to ensure uninterrupted movement of wildlife as it runs through the elephant corridor of Ramu Reserve Forest and Chunati Wildlife Sanctuary.

Although environmentalists and critics criticized the initiative to build the rail track through the forest, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina initiated the construction on April 3, 2011, by laying the foundation stone for the railway between Dohazari-Ramu-Cox's Bazar and Ramu-Gumdhum.


Train services, fares, and facilities

According to railway sources, the proposed fare for the non-AC chair is Tk500, AC chair is Tk950, AC cabin fare is Tk1,200, and AC berth fare is Tk1,725, without VAT. A 15% VAT will be added to every fare tier of the intercity train from Dhaka to Cox's Bazar. Secretary of the Rail Ministry Humayun Kabir informed journalists on Friday that they are planning to start operation of the intercity train on December 1.

Initially, a single intercity train will operate on December 1, with plans to later add mail trains and commuter trains with lower fares.

According to the proposal of the Railway Director General's office, one train a day will depart from Dhaka at 10:30pm and reach Cox's Bazar at 6:40am, with a break at the airport and Chittagong station. It will depart from Cox's Bazar at 1pm and return to Dhaka at 9:10pm. On the way back, the train will stop at the airports in Chittagong and Dhaka.

Tuesday will be a break day.

Six names have been proposed for the trains: Prabal Express, Himchari Express, Cox's Bazar Express, Inani Express, Labani Express, and Saint Martin's Express. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will finalize the train names.

Each intercity train will have two dining coaches, one power car, three AC cabins, five AC chairs, six decorative chairs, and one non-AC first-seat coach. The number of seats during the journey from Dhaka will be 797, and on the return journey, the seats will be 737.

What is the iconic station offering to passengers?

As Cox's Bazar is a beach city famous for its tourist attractions, the railway authority has built a special Oyster-shaped iconic railway station in Jhelongha Union with various facilities for the passengers. The size of the station building is 182,000 square feet, taking into consideration the facilities of various modern stations worldwide.

After four years of labour, the iconic railway station building is an eye-catching reality today. The station will offer hotels and restrooms for the passengers, and locker facilities will be provided to backpacker tourists, allowing them to enjoy the Cox's Bazar day trip without booking any hotel. Adjacent to the station, a railway residential area has been developed, featuring amenities such as a canteen, lockers, and car parking.

Tourists can utilize the station lockers to secure their belongings while spending the day at the beach. The project director noted that at least 46,000 people can travel through this station daily.

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