Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar Railway Line – Railway Technology

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The Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar rail line is expected to be completed by 2022. Credit: Matthew Nichol.

The single-track railway line of the first phase of the project will connect the village of Dohazari to Cox’s Bazar. Credit: SvedOliver.

The second phase will include the extension of the line towards the border with Myanmar. Credit: Scott Wallace/World Bank.

The Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar Railway Line is a proposed 120 km double-track passenger line between a village in southeast Bangladesh and Cox’s Bazar, one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.

The greenfield project is one of seven investment sub-projects undertaken by Bangladesh Railway (BR) to improve the country’s rail connectivity with other Asian countries.

It is part of the Trans-Asian Rail Network (TAR) and will improve access to Myanmar and beyond. The project is endorsed by the South Asian Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC).

The project will last five years and will generate employment for approximately 3,500 workers in local communities. It will also boost trade and tourism in the southernmost regions of the country.

Civil works for the project began in March 2018 and are expected to be completed by 2022.

Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar Railway Line

The first phase of the railway project will consist of a single-track railway line approximately 102 km long. It will pass through eight sub-districts (upazilas), including Chandanaish, Satkania and Lohagara sub-divisions in Chittagong district and Chakaria, Cox’s Bazar Sadar and Ramu sub-divisions in Cox’s Bazar district.

The line will start at the village of Dohazari and continue south to Cox’s Bazar. The first 29 km segment will cross flat and open terrain in Chittagong district, while the next 33 km will pass through farmlands and forests in the Chakaria Upazila of Cox’s Bazar district.

During the second phase of the project, the railway line will be extended to the border with Myanmar, as well as a planned deep-water port on the island of Matarbari.

Stations along the railway line

A total of eight new stations will be built for the new route, in addition to an existing station at Dohazari. The existing station will be demolished to build a new facility on the other side of the tracks, while 2 km of existing tracks near Dohazari station will be upgraded.

The proposed line crosses the Sangu River, south of Dohazari. The section of track north of the river will be raised for sufficient clearance.

The stations will be equipped with relay batteries, generator rooms, sewage and waste management facilities and energy saving devices such as solar panels. They will include separate facilities for women, children, the elderly and the disabled.

Other infrastructure

A total of 183 water crossings, including 39 bridges and 144 culverts, will be constructed along the new alignment. Six major bridges will be built over the Sangu, Matamuhuri and Bakkhali rivers, as well as the Idgaon Chara tributary.

The culverts will offer a single or multi-cell concrete design to improve drainage.

Funding

The estimated investment for the project is $2.013 billion, of which $512 million is provided by the Government of Bangladesh.

The AfDB offered a $1.5 billion loan in September 2016 for the project. The first tranche of the loan of approximately $300 million was released by AfDB in June 2017, while the second tranche of $400 million was released in May 2019. The Government of Bangladesh will add $50 million to the AfDB second tranche.

The Export-Import Bank of Korea grants a loan of 99.04 million dollars.

Context and benefits of the project

The Chittagong-Cox Bazaar Rail Project is expected to link national and sub-regional rail networks for the first time.

The new line will connect the Cox’s Bazar district to sub-regional markets to enhance trade. By providing intermodal facilities for passengers and freight, the project will also improve connections with Myanmar.

With double gauge tracks, the project will provide links to western Bangladesh and India, where most railways are broad gauge, and to northeast India and South Asia. Sud-Est, which mainly offer meter gauge tracks.

The project is helping Bangladesh meet its targets under its 7th Five-Year Plan and Railway Master Plan, which aim to increase the country’s freight market share to 15% and passenger market share to 10%.

Contractors

The detailed design of the new railway was provided by SMEC.

The construction of the project has been divided into two lots, Lot 1 and Lot 2. The contract for Lot 1 has been awarded to a joint venture (JV) of China Railway Engineering Group (CREC) and Toma Group, while Lot 2 has was awarded to a joint venture between China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and Max Group. Both contracts were awarded in September 2017.

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