Bangladesh Railway has expressed serious reservations about a move to extend a metrorail line up to Kamalapur Railway Station, saying it will jeopardise its mega plan to turn the country’s prime railway station into a multimodal transport hub.
The mass rapid transit (MRT) line-6, the first-ever metrorail project in the country, was initially designed as an elevated track from Uttara to Motijheel. Later, a skywalk was planned to connect the line with Kamalapur Railway Station.
Last year, Dhaka Mass Transit Company Ltd (DMTCL), a government-owned company implementing the metrorail project, planned to stretch the MRT line-6 directly to the rail station.
“The present proposal of extension of MRT Line-6 alignment on the Kamalapur Station premises is not acceptable,” reads the minutes of a meeting held at the Railway Bhaban last month.
The railway authorities sent the minutes to the DMTCL on December 30 last year.
“After detailed discussions, it is found that extension of MRT line-6 will confront the basic theme of development of MmTH [Multimodal Transport Hub] and other BR development work.”
Railways Minister Nurul Islam presided over the meeting, which discussed “Development Programme of Bangladesh Railway at Kamalapur Railway Station”. The Daily Star has obtained a copy of the meeting minutes.
In another development, Kajima Corporation, a Japanese company which had already outlined a concept of the hub, informed the BR that it would withdraw their proposal if the MRT line-6 extension plan is accepted, said a top railway official.
BR Director General Md Shamsuzzaman acknowledged that they have sent the meeting minutes to the DMTCL expressing their concern. “It would frustrate our plan centring on the Kamalapur station. This is not acceptable,” he told The Daily Star on January 12.
Talking to this correspondent yesterday, a BR official said they were yet to get any response from the DMTCL authorities. “A letter would be sent to them soon,” the official said.
While detailing the multimodal hub plan, another railway official said the project will accommodate the connectivity of conventional railway, high-speed railway, MRT line-1, 2 and 4, elevated expressway, bus stoppage, and a subway and MRT line-6 with skywalk.
“Any change and deviation will upset the whole plan,” Monirul Islam Firozi, who is overseeing MmTH on behalf of the BR, told this newspaper recently.
The government aims to build six metro lines in the capital and its adjacent areas by 2030. One of the tracks will be elevated, one underground and four will be both elevated and underground.
The underground MRT line-1 will connect Kamalapur with Shahjalal International Airport. MRT line-2, which will be both elevated and underground, will link Gabtoli to Chattogram Road via Kamalapur. Kamalapur will be connected with Narayanganj by the underground MRT line-4.
MRT line-6 is under-construction at a cost of Tk 22,000 crore. It will carry 60,000 passengers per hour.
The DMTCL is working to extend the line up to Kamalapur so that people using metrorail can directly go to the country’s largest railway station.
It has completed a topography survey and selected an alignment for the additional 1.16km line. There are 31 permanent structures on the route to be demolished, a DMTCL official said.
DMTCL had earlier planned to connect Motijheel with Kamalapur with a skywalk — a suspended road only for walk.
DMTCL abandoned the plan as a walk for more than one kilometre may not be helpful for commuters, said the DMTCL official.
EXPRESSWAY ANOTHER CONCERN
The railway authorities have sent Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) the same meeting minutes, which also said, “The proposed alignment of FDEE [First Dhaka Elevated Express] has to be shifted to Atish Dipankar Road, and best engineering solution should be found out to connect it with MmTH.”
The bridge authority is constructing the 19.73km elevated expressway from Shahjalal International Airport to Kutubkhali on Dhaka-Chattogram highway.
The total plan involves about a 47km-stretch including approach roads and ramps at different points. There will be a ramp and toll plaza near Kamalapur for this scheme.
AHMS Aktar, project director of the elevated expressway project, said they have received the BR letter.
As per the decision of a recent inter-ministerial meeting, a joint survey would be conducted in Kamalapur area as several authorities are implementing different projects in this area.
“If the railway has any problem with our plan, we, upon discussion will shift the ramp or toll plaza a little,” he told The Daily Star on January 12.
The joint survey would be conducted to solve these problems and find out an “engineering solution”, he added.
A BR official yesterday said they too would send a letter to the DMTCL as they were yet to get any response from it.
WOULD HINDER BR PLANS
According to railway officials, the latest proposals regarding MRT line-6 and elevated expressway will hinder the BR plan to build multi-modal transport hub centring on the Kamalapur station.
The government has already signed a memorandum of cooperation with Japan to implement it under a G2G public-private partnership project, and the basic concept was approved in the third Bangladesh-Japan joint platform meeting in March last year, reads BR documents.
Buet has been engaged as advisor for conducting feasibility study.
Monirul Islam Firozi, also PPP focal point official of BR, said more than 80 meetings were held over the planned hub and the issue was discussed at three platform meetings with Japan government representatives.
DMCL officials were present at the meeting and they are very much aware of the plan from the beginning.
“We are working to integrate all possible modes including MRT-6 but the current proposal for expansion of MRT-6 up to Kamalapur is not acceptable because it would hinder our plan,” he said.
Kajima Corporation has already informed the BR that they would withdraw their proposal if the MRT-6 extension route is accepted, he said.
Against this backdrop, the BR requested Kajima to find out an alternative route for MRT-6 without upsetting the plan for the hub and it has already been done, he said.
The BR has no problem with the proposed skywalk as the multi-modal transport hub was planned keeping it into consideration. It has already prepared a draft plan for use of Kamalapur station’s land as several important and mega projects will be connected to the station.
MAN Siddique, managing director of DMTCL, said they were aware of BR’s concern over their extension plan of MRT-6 and were working with three options for the extension.
Option one is to build a station of MRT-6 over the underground station of MRT-1 at Kamalapur while the second option is to build the station outside BR land and third option is to build the station taking some land from the BR.
“We will hold meetings with the consultants of both MRT-6 and 1 and later talk with the BR soon to find out a solution,” he told The Daily Star also on January 12.