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Bangladesh in the era of high-tech underground transport system

Sufian Asif
08 Feb 2023 00:02:48 | Update: 08 Feb 2023 00:02:48
Bangladesh in the era of high-tech underground transport system

The communication system of Bangladesh is now an example of a new revolution. Only a month after having thedream metro rails running from Uttara’s Diabari to Agargaon, PM Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the construction work of the country’s first ever underground metro rail route named Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Line-1 on Feb 2, paving the way for Bangladesh to enter the era of underground mass transit, which is only seen in developed countries. It is a moment of immense pride and joy for the whole nation. It is being constructed in view of the calculations and realities of the population of Dhaka. It will serve as a turning point in easing the Dhaka traffic jam.  

In order to lessen traffic congestion in the capital and make travel easier and faster for citizens, the government approved the plan to build a metro rail system in Dhaka in 2012. A total of six phases of metro rail construction are planned. The MRT Line-1 project, expected to be completed by 2026, will be 31.24 kilometers long and have two sections. The 19.87 kilometers of the project from Dhaka International Airport to Kamalapur will be underground, and the remaining 11.36 kilometers from Notun Bazar to Purbachal will be elevated. The construction cost of this project has been estimated at 52 thousand, 561 crore, and 43 lakh taka. Out of this, 39 thousand and 450 crore will be supported by JICA. The remaining 13 thousand, 111 crore, and 11 lakh taka will be spent from the government’s own funds.

Although transportation is regarded as the city’s lifeline, Dhaka’s congested transportation networks currently cause traffic to crawl and leave commuters stranded on the streets for hours. The scenario will change once the government builds the metro rail system that covers the entire city. By 2030, the government hopes to have built six metro rail lines in Dhaka, which will drastically alter the city’s transportation system, lessen traffic congestion, raise living standards,
and reduce air pollution.

The MRT-1 will use a variety of methods and materials to lessen noise levels and vibration during tunneling and train operations. The employment of specialized cutting heads, sound-absorbing liners, and vibration-damping systems are examples of this. The trains themselves will also be designed with noise-reducing features, such as insulated cabins, and the earth around the tunnels in the underground part of the MRT-1 will also help in soundproofing.

The use of soundless tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will make it possible to build MRT-1’s underground infrastructure without disrupting the daily lives of residents and businesses. A TBM is a type of tunnel construction equipment that operates without creating significant noise or vibration. This technology is designed to minimize the impact of tunneling on the surrounding environment and communities. This makes them ideal for use in densely populated urban areas, where the reduction of construction-related noise and vibration is of utmost importance.

Automated system for collecting fares

In MRT-1, passengers will be able to use their MRT passes or Rapid Passes to utilize the AFC system. The AFC system automates the fare collection process, reducing the need for manual ticket checking and improving the efficiency of the transportation system. It also enables real-time tracking of passenger journeys and revenue collection, making it easier for transport operators to manage their operations and track their financial performance.

The Operation Control Centre (OCC)

The Operation Control Centre (OCC) of the MRT-1 in Bangladesh is a high-tech facility designed to manage and monitor the operation of the underground metro rail system. The OCC will be equipped with advanced technology and tools, including real-time train tracking systems, communication systems, and computer-aided dispatch systems, to ensure the smooth and efficient operation of the MRT-1. The OCC will be staffed by highly trained personnel who will monitor the train movements, manage passenger flow, and respond to emergencies. The OCC will also be responsible for ensuring the reliability and safety of the MRT-1 by continuously monitoring the system and taking corrective action if necessary.

Impacts on the economy and environment

Metrorail will usher the population of our country into a new era of technological advancement. It will help bring digitization to the country’s transport system as well as a gradual move towards a cashless economy. The population density of Dhaka city can be reduced if a subway is built. People will be decentralized from the central cities.

The Metrorail project will ease commuting and speed up daily life for more than 15 million people in Dhaka, creating a major positive impact on the economy. Apart from that, it will provide an air-conditioned transport facility with a large passenger capacity; it will carry around 60,000 passengers per hour, and one train will run to each station every 4 minutes.

Due to traffic congestion, there is a huge economic loss in Bangladesh. The country can save 2.6 billion dollars if traffic congestion in Dhaka can be reduced by 60 percent. A bus takes 3 hours from Uttara to Motijheel and 4 to 5 hours during peak hours. If MRT Line-1 is launched, it will take 24.30 minutes to reach Kamalapur from the airport and 20.35 minutes to go from New Market to Purbachal. 8 lakh passengers will be able to travel on this route every day. According to an estimate, the metro rail project will save $2.4 billion per year, equivalent to 1.5 percent of the national GDP.

Each underground station of MRT Line-1 will have three floors. There will be lift, stairs, and escalator facilities at both stations for the movement of passengers. The operation and maintenance of Metrorail will require a lot of manpower, which will create many job opportunities.

Smart Bangladesh needs smart transportation. The MRT-1 is designed to be environmentally friendly and sustainable. It will. As the Metrorail will run on electricity and be able to carry more passengers per hour, the trend of commuting by bus and other modes of transport in Dhaka will decrease, reducing air pollution in the city. Moreover, the construction of the project will also follow strict environmental standards to minimize its impact on the local community. So, it can be safely said that Metrorail is the dream project that will transform the city of Dhaka from its current status to a modern, cosmopolitan one.

Underground Metrorail is a new addition to Smart Bangladesh. The revolutionary changes in the communication sector will be visible after the completion of the project. When the global economy fears the worst recession in decades and many developed countries are struggling to manage their economies, the implementation of one megaproject after another is a manifestation of Bangladesh’s economic strength. It makes us hopeful about a modern Bangladesh, which is not far away.

The writer is an independent researcher and freelance columnist. He can be contacted at [email protected]