Electric train future fuzzy, project found not feasible

Govt turns to Dhaka-Ctg double-line
Munima Sultana
The government’s plan to introduce the electric train service in the country spending nearly Tk 90 billion is unlikely to see light in a few years, officials said.

They said, at present a number of programmes to introduce electric train were taken but those could not be made to proceed due to lack of fund and feasibility.

“Electric train is not getting due importance because of the finding that it is less feasible in the present context,” said an official of the communications ministry.

He said despite showing interest in the electric train project, the government now finds investment in the existing rail track for making it double-line more feasible than its electrification work.

Officials said a preliminary plan to introduce electric rail service between Dhaka and Chittagong was placed to the planning commission in December 2009, but it was not brought up for discussion.

Railway officials also said another project to establish electric cord track between Lakhsam and Fatullah of Narayanganj has been shelved since its feasibility study completed in 2008.

The study was done as part of Dhaka-Chittagong railway line double track, with the electric track project requiring establishment of new rail line between Lakhsam and Fatullah rail stations.

Officials said although the new railway track with electric cord would squeeze distance to 90km from 330 km, it could not be proceeded due to lack of funds.

“Since the feasibility was completed, the government tried to find donors but could not get any for their failure to meet the major conditions of railway reforms,” said a railway official preferring anonymity.

He said the condition relating to reforms stood repeatedly in the way of getting funds to develop the railway including electric train introduction.

The ministry official, however, said the government has less interest at the moment in train service electrification project, particularly Lakhsam-Fatullah electric cord track, as it would need over 900 acres of land, which has to be acquired.

“it is better for the government to invest into the double- track railway between Dhaka and Chittagong than ‘electrification’,” said the official.

Meanwhile, the communications ministry announced including electric train line in the Padma bridge project to ensure the possibility of establishing link with neighbouring rail services, but it is still at the planning level.

The officials said although the current budget has increased allotment for railway, no allocation was made for any of the planned two electric train projects.

thefinancialexpress