First underground metro: work finally starts in December

Civil works for the country’s first underground metro will begin in December this year, after a two-year delay.

Works on the Tk 52,561.43 crore project, the largest infrastructure project in the transport sector, will commence with land development for the Pitalganj depot in Narayanganj.

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The project deadline is December 2026, according to the project documents.

The board of directors of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Ltd (DMTCL), the executing agency for the rail metro projects, on September 7 approved a proposal to appoint a joint venture led by a Japanese company for the development of the depot. (lot 1 ).

A contract with the company is expected to be signed in mid-November and civil works on the project are expected to start the first week of December, said MAN Siddique, managing director of DMTCL.

“After the contract to sing [for package-1]we will request time from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the inauguration ceremony of the underground metro,” he told the Daily Star yesterday.

In another development, the metro railway authorities will sign a contract with another joint venture led by another Japanese company on October 23 for construction supervision services.

Once the line, officially known as Mass Rapid Transit Line-1, or MRT-1, is completed, it will be able to carry 8 lakh passengers daily.

The 31.24 km line will consist of two parts: a 19.87 km part from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to Kamalapur (airport road) which will be underground and around an elevated line of 11.36 km from Notunbazar to Purbachal (Purbachal road).

The airport route will have 12 stations and the Purbachal route will have nine stations, seven of which will be above ground. Two stations on the Purbachal route – Nadda and Notunbazar – will be built underground and used as an interchange, for passengers to transfer from one route to the other.

In addition, another metro line – MRT Line 5 (North Route) which will connect Hemayetpur and Bhatara – will have an interchange at MRT Line 1 Notunbazar Station, according to project documents.

MRT-1 will be the second of six lines to be built in the capital and adjacent areas to reduce traffic congestion and pollution.

The government has taken on a plan to build around 130km of metro rail network – with both elevated and underground sections – by 2030.

Construction of the country’s first-ever metro line, MRT-6, is underway to connect Uttara and Motijheel with a 20.1 km elevated rail line. Its first phase, from Uttara to Agargaon, is expected to open in December.

FIRST UNDERGROUND METRO

The feasibility study for the MRT-1 line was completed in December 2018. The executive committee of the National Economic Council approved the project in October 2019.

Of the Tk 52,561.43 crore, the government will provide Tk 13,111 crore and Japan Tk 39,450 crore as soft loan.

The authorities had planned to start physical works on the project in December 2020. They later changed the start date three times, with the last postponement coming in September this year.

Responding to a question about the delay, MAN Siddique said the detailed design of the project was delayed mainly due to the Covid-19 pandemic as many foreign experts were unable to join.

When asked if they would be able to meet the deadline, Siddique said they still held out hope.

He said they would implement the project in 13 packages – one for consultants and 12 for civil works.

“We have already gained experience of the first MRT line [MRT-6] … If we are able to sign all the contracts for the underground and elevated sections, which are now at different stages, within the next six months, we can meet the deadline,” he added.

He said that after starting the works of the depot, they will start the works for the underground tracks from four places.

The four boring locations will be near the airport, Kuril, Notunbazar and Kamalapur in the capital.

Asked about potential public suffering once work on the project begins, he said people could face suffering around the station sites, but that would not last more than three to six months as most work would be carried out underground.

Revealing different aspects of the project, MAN Siddique said last June that 25 trains would run on the line daily. Each train will have cars to carry 3,008 passengers at a time.

It would take 24.5 minutes to drive from the airport to Kamalapur, 20.35 minutes from Notunbazar to Purbachal and 40 minutes from Kamalapur to Purbachal.

Trains will run at intervals of 2.5 minutes on the Airport line and 4.35 minutes on the Purbachal line.

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