The trains for Bangladesh's first metro rail are ready in Japan and may arrive here shortly.
The authorities are, in fact, hopeful of bringing the trains next month – if the Covid-19 situation improves by then.
Meanwhile, the Uttara-Agargaon part of the Mass Rapid Transit 6 project – the metro network from Uttara to Motijheel – has progressed faster than the other part.
The entire 11.73 kilometres of the Uttara-Agargaon section, including its viaduct, is now noticeable. The work progress including the construction of railways and nine stations is about 76%.
Officials of the metro rail project said each train will have six bogies, the trial run of which has been carried out in Japan.
The ongoing pandemic has prevented the Bangladeshi engineers from going to Japan to witness a test run of the trains and then bring them home.
ANM Siddique, managing director of the Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited, said foreigners are barred from entering Japan because of Covid-19. The ban will remain in place till 31 January.
"Our engineers will visit Japan in February to get the trains once the ban is lifted. If the Japanese government extends the ban, special arrangements will be made to bring the trains."
Twenty-four metro trains will be required for the route from Uttara to Motijheel. If the Uttara-Agargaon part is opened for operation primarily, it will require eight trains. Besides, a rescue train will be necessary.
The Kawasaki-Mitshubishi Consortium of Japan started construction of these trains for MRT-6 in April 2019 under an agreement worth Tk2,870crore signed in 2017.
A mockup of the metro train was set up at the Uttara Depot Metro Rail Exhibition and Information Centre in February last year.
The construction of the first full-fledged metro train was completed in April last year and the second in September while till December five trains have been built in Japan.
According to the agreement, 24 passenger trains and one rescue train will have to be delivered by December next year.
Features of these trains
Reusable aluminium alloys have been used to build the bodies of the compartments of the metro trains. The window glass of the train will be bulletproof.
There will be trailer control in two bogies on the front and rear sides of the train. The compartments weighing 22 to 28 tonnes will be about three metres in width and 20 metres in length, and have a long-line seating arrangement.
Each of the coaches will have two air-conditioning units, with four doors for passengers.
The train will run at a maximum speed of 100 kilometres per hour. Regenerative electric brakes are being used in the trains.
Automated operation thru' radio-based communication
The metro trains will be operated in an automated radio communication system even without any driver.
Retrofit automatic train operating system called SIL4 will be used for this.
Project officials said if MRT-6 turns fully operational, 18 megawatt of electricity will be required to operate the trains.
Ring circuit topology technology will be used to keep the trains running during power outage. Even then, trains will have backup power sources to solve potential electricity-related problems.
Long-Term Evaluation (LTE) technology will be in place for radio-based communication during train operation.
A treaty has been signed with Nippon Signal Co Ltd in Japan to operate the signalling system.
Nokia will operate the telecommunication system. There will be an optical fibre network throughout the installation of the metro rail system.
If for any reason the telecommunication system is disrupted and train movement comes to a halt, a salvage train will be readily used. The whole system will be monitored through CCTV cameras.
Of the six bogies in each train, one will be reserved for women, who can also travel in other compartments. Each coach will have reserved seats for pregnant women and the elderly. A balance of height will be maintained between the floor and the platform for those with physical impairments.
The train will have an audio information system for the visually impaired people and visual displays for the people with hearing impairments.
Metro rail to save time, reduce carbon emissions
The metro rail will cover the 20km distance from Uttara to Motijheel in just 40 minutes. This will save passengers' time by about two hours. Some 60,000 passengers can be transported per hour.
The environment-friendly transport will reduce emissions by 1,73,312 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
The project for construction of the 20.10km metro rail from Uttara to Motijheel via Pallabi, Mirpur 10, Farmgate, Doel Chattar and Press Club was approved in 2012.
The project is expected to be completed by 2024 at a cost of Tk21,985 crore.
Of this, the Japan International Development Agency will provide a loan of Tk16,595 crore. As of December last year, 55.19% of the allocation has been spent.
Recently, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed the authorities concerned to extend the MRT-6 to Kamalapur, thus increasing its length by 1.16km.
By 2030, the government wants to build six other metro rails in and around Dhaka under the DMTCL. The total length of all the rail lines will be 128.74km.
Of this, 67.57km will be above the ground with 51 stations and 61.17km below the ground with 53 stations.
Trains to reach Dhaka by river via Mongla
The trains will reach Bangladesh from Japan by sea. They will be brought to Dhaka from Mongla Port by river.
According to the project officials, it is not possible to bring these huge trains to Dhaka by road because of the axial load factor.
According to the agreement, the metro train manufacturer Kawasaki-Mitshubishi Consortium is responsible for transporting the trains to Dhaka.
A temporary jetty has already been constructed at Ashulia in Dhaka to unload the metro trains.