Even a century ago, nobody could have thought of a transportation (other than planes) that would help someone commute a distance of around 250-300 kilometers in merely an hour. Sounds incredible, right? Time has changed, so has the modern world. With new and advanced technologies popping up every now and then, the world has undergone monumental changes when it comes to transportation system with the introduction of high-speed rail (HSR) in different developed countries.
Japan is considered to be the birthplace of high-speed rail, widely known as the ‘bullet train.’ Japan introduced the first-ever high-speed rail in 1964. With a network of 9 high-speed rail lines, Japanese high-speed trains usually carry more than 420,000 passengers on the weekdays. Later on, many European countries developed similar rail systems. And in recent times, China has made headlines with their advanced and more efficient high-speed rail infrastructure amalgamating cutting-edge technology and top-notch skills.
A high-speed rail network can help a country experience growth in consideration of three aspects. First, it provides a very fast and comfortable means of transportation to a large number of commuters at a time, saving hours for them and money as well, since we all know that time is money. Such a fast medium of transportation accrues economic productivity. Second, this directly influences the job market as it creates employment opportunities for a good number of the unemployed labour force. Third, such a high-speed rail link has the potential to connect cities, which ultimately helps smaller cities to connect with the larger ones and promote growth on many fronts.
It is so heartening to see that Bangladesh has also mapped out detailed plans and taken initiatives to develop high-speed rail in the country, realizing the great potentials of this infrastructure. Bangladesh government has taken several rail projects in the last few years, one of the most prominent projects being the Hi-Speed Rail Link project from Dhaka to Chattogram. According to project estimation, over 50,000 passengers will be able to commute between Dhaka and Chattogram daily in just 73 minutes with the introduction of hi-speed trains. The feasibility study of the project has already been completed. Meanwhile, two Chinese companies, including China Railway Group Limited (CREC) and an Australian firm named ‘Providus Investments’ have shown their interest in the project for a joint venture on the basis of a public private partnership (PPP) to construct, operate and manage funds for the proposed rail route.
This high-speed rail link is going to have monumental impacts on Bangladesh’s economy. As Bangladesh has recently qualified for LDC graduation, such a speedy communication system could expedite the growth momentum as it will not only save people’s time but also help realize the economic prospects of two major cities (Dhaka and Chattogram) in more fruitful ways.
However, further strategic decisions regarding this rail link project are in limbo now owing to the pandemic. Bangladesh, as experts believe, should come up with their decisions as to which company to be awarded the construction contract and other issues as soon as possible, taking the long-term benefits of such a high-speed rail link into account. The sooner the government will make decisions, the earlier people of this country could avail themselves of the facility and improve their lives.
In-charge, Mawa-Bhanga section, Padma Bridge Rail Link Project