The country’s first underground metro is underway

MRT Line 1, the country’s first underground metro line, is finally gearing up for construction more than a year after the scheduled groundbreaking.

The Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) will confirm the alignment of the metro line to the Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL) at a license handover ceremony today. The Minister of Road Transport and Bridges Division, Obaidul Quader, will be present on the occasion as the chief guest.

The government aims to start construction of Line 1 of the MRT in mid-August. The line will connect Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to Kamalapur.

“The project will be implemented in 12 lots, of which the land development of the depot will be the first. Work on the depot will start in mid-August,” said Md A Alim Khan, MRT Line 1 Project Manager.

“The land acquisition for the depot is almost complete. The process of appointing a contractor is at the final stage,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.

Physical works on MRT Line 1 were originally scheduled to start in December 2020 but were postponed to June 2021 and then again by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and design disputes with others megaprojects.

According to an internal report on MRT Line 1, detailed design progress is at 97%, while land acquisition progress was at 94% as of May 31.

Project officials said an agreement will be signed with the contractor for land development works by July.

The depot will be built on 92.97 acres of land in Pitalganj and Brammonkhali areas in the Rupganj of Narayangaj.

A consultant for project supervision will be appointed by July as DMTCL, the executing agency, has already received a no-objection certificate from Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).

MRT Line 1 Advantage

The 31.24 km MRT Line 1 will have two parts – approximately 19.87 km from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to Kamalapur with 16.4 km underground, and approximately 11.36 km elevated from Notun Bazar to Purbachal. Notun Bazar station will serve as an interchange.

Once the metro line is in service, trains will run at 90 km/h and will be able to carry 800,000 passengers per day.

It will only take 24 minutes to get from Dhaka Airport to Kamalapur, apart from breaks at 12 metro stations on the route (Dhaka Airport, Kuril, Natunbazar, Badda, Rampura, Malibagh, Rajarbag and Kamalapur).

A total of 25 trains, each carrying 3,088 passengers, will run on the route.

The journey on the elevated portion of the Purbachal route will take 20 minutes, with trains traveling at 100 km/h apart from breaks at seven stations.

There will be a 2.5-minute break between each train on the Airport-Kamalapur line, and the waiting time between trains on the Notun Bazar-Purbachal line will be 4.4 minutes.

Stations

According to the plan, the Airport-Kamalapur route will have 12 metro stations – at Airport Terminal 3, Khilkhet, Jamuna Future Park, Notun Bazar, Uttar Badda, Badda, Hatirjheel East, Rampura, Malibagh, Rajarbagh and Kamalapur.

The Purbachal portion will have stations at Notun Bazar, Bashundhara R/A, Police Officers’ Housing Society, Mastul, Purbachal West, Purbachal Center and Purbachal East.

In October last year, the executive committee of the National Economic Council approved the Tk 52,561.43 crore project, which will be implemented between September 2019 and December 2026.

The government will provide Tk 13,111 crore while JIica will fund Tk 39,450 crore.

The government has adopted a time-bound action plan to build an integrated metro railway system of 129.901 km (68.729 km elevated and 61.172 km underground) with 105 stations.

The system will be implemented by Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL). The plan includes six metro lines to reduce traffic congestion and improve the environment of Metropolitan Dhaka and surrounding areas by 2030.

Bonny J. Streater