The government has moved to cut the rail route between Dhaka and Chittagong by nearly 90 kilometres (kms) with a straight new line to be built for high-speed train, officials said.
Bangladesh Railway (BR) officials said they would build a fresh rail track from Dhaka to Comilla via Laksam parallel with the existing Dhaka-Chittagong highway to reduce the travel time and distance both.
Besides, they added, the state-owned Railway will upgrade the existing rail track between the capital, Dhaka, and the port city of Chittagong for introducing 200-km-speed trains.
"Reducing the distance by nearly 90kms between Dhaka and Chittagong through railway, the proposed track will meet the existing rail track in Comilla. In that case, the Chittagong-bound trains need not travel through the current route via Tongi-Bhairab-Akhaura-Brahmanbaria line," Chief Planning Officer of the BR Mr Anwarul Huq told the FE.
He said they would start feasibility study on the newly planned route from Dhaka to Comilla via Laksam. Besides, the study will assess the viability of the upgraded railway track for speedy train service.
The planning officer said they had sent a Tk 1.09-billion project proposal for conducting feasibility study and detailed design to the Planning Commission (PC) for approval.
"Simultaneously, we have been searching funds from foreign development partners for the main works of the proposed Dhaka-Chittagong railway track," Mr Huq said.
"Shortly after getting approval for the project from the PC, we will appoint consultant for beginning feasibility study and doing detailed design of the new route," the BR's planning officer said.
A PC official said they had received the BR project proposal. "Now we are scrutinising it."
Currently, the length of the Dhaka-Chittagong railway is 320.79kms as trains need to snake through the Dhaka-Tongi-Bhairab-Akhaura-Brahmanbaria-Comilla-Feni-Chittagong route.
Another BR official said if they could introduce the new route and upgrade the railway track for speedy trains, the journey time between Dhaka and Chittagong would come down to only two hours.
The official said the new railway line would not only help cut the journey time for the passengers but also ease the transportation of export and import cargoes between Dhaka and Chittagong.
Meanwhile, the BR has upgraded most portion of the 320kms Dhaka-Chittagong railway line into a double-track one from the existing single track with the financial support of the Asian Development Bank.
The state-run Railway has invested billions of US dollars over the last few years in upgrading its infrastructures and services for improving the internal transportation system as well as boarding Bangladesh onto the Trans-Asian Railway meant for continental journey.