Bangladesh enters a new era of metro rail with its trial operations from Uttara to Pallabi in the capital on Sunday. The metro rail services are expected to start its commercial operations in December next year.

During the inaugural ceremony, road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader said the work of three mega projects would be finished between June and December 2022. Of them, the Padma bridge is expected to be opened for the commuters in June and the Karnaphuli tunnel and the metro rail in December 2022.

The trial run of metro rail has created hope and excitement among the people of the country. We congratulate all involved in this dream project being implemented with the financial and technical support from Japan. We hope that all the related tasks including the construction of all the stations and connecting roads will be finished before the official inauguration of metro rail.

The total length of metro rail from Uttara to Motijheel is 20.1 kilometres. There are a total of 16 stations on this route. The major work of stations and route has not yet been completed. The primary trial run was conducted without the passengers. This will be followed by the main trial run with the passengers, which is known as the “integrated test”. During the time, it would be tested whether 17-18 systems of the metro rail can work simultaneously and smoothly or not.

According to sources of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL), the integrated test may be conducted for six or more months. After that, trains will run with passengers.

According to the design of the metro rail and line, it will be able to run at a maximum speed of 110 kmph. However, the speed of the train with passengers, stoppage duration at each station and the fare have not been finalised yet.

At present it takes two to two and a half hours to travel from Uttara to Motijheel. But the metro rail will take only 36 minutes and will be able to carry half a million passengers every day. According to transport experts, the launch of metro rail will reduce traffic congestion in Dhaka and increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 1 per cent. The unbearable traffic jam in Dhaka is not only increasing the suffering of the people, the country is also suffering economically.

A few things have to be taken into consideration before launching the metro rail. First of all, these include the management of the station and its connected roads. Excess crowds should be avoided at the station so that passengers can get in and down smoothly. It must be determined in advance what kind of vehicles will run on the roads connected to the station. Roads of Dhaka city are facing towards north and south. In that case, arrangements should also be made so that dwellers from the east and the west can travel by metro rail.

It will take another 15 months for the metro rail to be operational fully. At this time, the authorities also need to think about how to keep the traffic congestion in the city at a tolerable level. A huge disorder is prevailing in the transport system of Dhaka city, which is not only increasing the traffic congestion but also causing accidents due to unhealthy competition. Annisul Huq, former mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation, was enthusiastic about launching a bus franchise or operating buses from one company on one route across the city. Under his initiative, 'Dhaka Chaka' was launched from Hatirjheel to Gulshan 2 as part of the plan and it is running successfully.

There are plans to launch buses on a few more routes on a trial basis from 6 September. Gradually the initiative must be implemented for all routes. The city dwellers also want to get the assurance that this plan will not be stopped in the middle due to the intervention of any vested quarters.