Dhaka-Cox’s Bazar Railway Will Bring Radical Changes In Tourism Sector – OpEd
By Sufian Asif
The expansion of the railways in the country has become necessary due to the excessive traffic pressure on the roads brought on by the population growth. The general public prefers rail travel because it is convenient and safe. The Bangladesh government plans to bring every district of the country under rail connectivity.
On the recently built 69.20-km railway, PM Sheikh Hasina officially opened the simultaneous running of trains from the stations of Rooppur (Ishwardi), Shasidal (Cumilla), and Joydevpur (Gazipur). Bangladesh Railway is likely to open four major railway lines this year: the Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar rail line, the Khulna-Mongla rail line, the Dhaka-Bhanga section of the Padma Bridge Rail Link, and the Akhaura-Laksam double line, which are supposed to significantly improve communications.
Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar Railway Line
To facilitate the travel of tourists from home and abroad to Cox’s Bazar, a rail communication network is being developed along with air and road. The railway line from Dhaka to Chittagong is 320 kilometers long and 102 kilometers from Chittagong’s Dohazari to Cox’s Bazar. Now, a mixed-gauge railway line is being constructed from Dohazari to Cox’s Bazar. If the railway line is completed on this route, high-speed rail traffic will be possible from Dhaka. It is a new addition to Bangladesh’s transportation sector’s development progress.
Although the project is scheduled to be completed in June 2024, the target date for running experimental trains on the Dohazari-Cox’s Bazar railway line has been set for August 23. The project saw 80 percent progress until December 22. After its completion, high-speed trains will run from Dhaka to the tourist city of Cox’s Bazar via Chittagong. 54 high-quality tourist coaches are being imported for the new railway in Cox’s Bazar, the world’s longest coastal city. They will run at a speed of 150 kilometers per hour. Every day, approximately 1 lakh tourists can travel. Cox’s Bazar can be reached from Dhaka in just four hours by high-speed train and will add a new dimension to the tourism industry of Bangladesh.
To create a tourism-friendly environment, the government is working on 191 development projects around the tourist city of Cox’s Bazar. The Dohazari-Cox’s Bazar railway infrastructure development will bring fresh air to the tourism economy as well as initiate multi-dimensional economic activities.
Iconic station with special facilities
The construction of the country’s first state-of-the-art oyster-shaped railway station is nearing completion in the Chanderpara area of Jhilongjha Union in Cox’s Bazar. The beautiful iconic station will have all the facilities, including a “luggage station,” a reception hall, a children’s entertainment area, a passenger lounge, a shopping mall, restaurants, and a conference hall. During the construction of this station, the facilities of various modern stations around the world, including those in China, Belgium, England, and Italy, have been taken into consideration. A total of 250 engineers, including 110 foreigners, were engaged in the entire project. At this station, tourists can leave their luggage at the station and visit the beach or go sightseeing all day, then return to their destination by night train.
Nine stations are under construction at Dohazari, Satkania, Lohagra, Harbang, Chakria, Dulahazra, Islamabad, Ramu, and Cox’s Bazar. These stations will have a computer-based interlock signal system and a digital telecommunications system. Three big bridges will be constructed on the Sangu, Matamuhuri, and Bakkhali rivers. Apart from this, 43 small bridges, 201 culverts, and 144 level crossings will be constructed on the entire railway.
It is hoped that when the railway is launched, a new field of multi-directional communication will be created with Cox’s Bazar. The city will become a smart city. There are modern traffic facilities with separate drop zones for general and VIP passengers. There is a separate parking area for buses, private cars, microbuses, and three-wheelers. There are supermarkets, pharmacies, ATM booths, post offices, tourist information booths, forex services, and various daily service centers.
A 50-meter-long overpass and three underpasses are being made for normal and comfortable movement of elephants and other wild animals by cutting and leveling the hill during the construction of the railway.
Impacts on the economy
When this highly anticipated high-speed train starts running on the Dhaka-Cox’s Bazar route, it will have a positive impact on the emerging economy of the country. New horizons will unfold. Opportunities will be created for multidimensional development, investment, and employment. Experts say that the country’s economy will take on fresh life once the rail link is launched. Like the garment industry, the tourism sector will become one of the main sectors of the country’s economy.
Trade and investment: At present, various projects for economic development, including a deep-sea port, a thermal power plant, an energy hub, and special economic zones, are going on in Maheshkhali, near Cox’s Bazar. To make the communication of Chittagong with Cox’s Bazar and South Chittagong easier and faster, tunnel construction work is going on under the Karnaphuli River. As a result, domestic and foreign investment will increase in Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar.
In Cox’s Bazar, the production of salt, agricultural commodities, fisheries, and dry goods are some of the economic sectors. In the event that agricultural products are conveniently imported and exported, farmers might also profit from reasonable prices. Moreover, swift and reliable modes of transportation, such as rail, will hasten import-export activity through Teknaf’s land port.
Tourism sector: The tourism industry is recognized as one of the largest industries in the world today. If the tourism sector develops in the country, employment will be created, and poverty alleviation will be successful. When this new railway is launched, Cox’s Bazar can be reached in seven and a half hours from Dhaka and two and a half hours from Chittagong. As a result, millions of tourists will visit Cox’s Bazar every week, enjoying the natural beauty of the forest, mountains, river, wildlife sanctuaries, and cultivated land. It will bring auspicious days of tourism.
Regional Connectivity: The line is also a part of the Trans-Asia Railway network. If the railway is built, Bangladesh could join the Trans-Asian Railway Corridor with Myanmar and China.
Socio-economic development: This railroad will be crucial to Cox’s Bazar’s socio-economic growth. Particularly, the region’s transportation infrastructure for fisheries resources, salt, raw materials for rubber, and agricultural and forestry products will be considerably easier than it was in the past. Farmers and fishermen can carry commodities at a low cost.
Employment: Tourism is a multi-dimensional, labor-intensive industry. As a result, the possibility of economic activity is created at different levels. A proposal for creating 1,289 new jobs for running trains on the route is pending with the public works ministry. Along with the creation of massive employment opportunities around this project, the number of small and medium-sized entrepreneurs will also increase.
Briefly put, Bangladesh’s economy and communication sectors will undergo a sea change as a result of a direct railway running from Dhaka to Cox’s Bazar. The door to multi-dimensional development will be opened. The speed of economic wheel will accelerate. The majority of citizens in the nation can be expected to travel safely and affordably thanks to the government’s projected action.