Dhaka, May 23 (UNB) - A new rail link connecting the port city of Chattogram and the country’s tourism hub Cox’s Bazar is expected to open in 2023 aiming to help promote trade, investment and tourism in Bangladesh in a greater way by transporting 2.9 million passengers annually by 2024, officials say.
Bangladesh signed a deal with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday for a $400 million loan to help build the dual-gauge railway connecting Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar.
Secretary, Economic Relations Division (ERD) Monowar Ahmed and Country Director, ADB Manmohan Parkash signed the agreement on behalf of Bangladesh and ADB respectively, at a ceremony in the capital.
The railway corridor is part of the Trans-Asian Railway network that will facilitate access for the Cox’s Bazar region’s population and products to sub-regional markets and trade.
The Trans-Asia Railway network, an initiative led by the United Nations, aims to provide seamless rail links between Asia and Europe to better connect people and markets.
The assistance forms the second part of $1.5 billion ADB loans for the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar Railway Project.
The loan will finance around 27 percent of the progress towards constructing 102 kilometers of new railway line between Chattogram and Cox's Bazar, according to the ADB.
“ADB is committed to helping Bangladesh develop its railways, which is a safe, affordable and environment-friendly mode of transport,” said Parkash.
He said the project is a priority investment under Bangladesh’s Seventh Five Year Plan and will open up the unserved areas of Cox’s Bazar region by promoting investment, trade and tourism.
Parkash said the project also integrates features that are friendly to the elderly, women, children, and people with disabilities.
He said the project will connect Cox’s Bazar for the first time to the national and sub-regional railway network.
The construction of this railway section is one of several ADB railway projects to help Bangladesh meet its targets under its Seventh Five-Year Plan and Railway Master Plan.