The first rail link to Cox’s Bazar has opened alongside a spectacular station in the beach city, fulfilling a dream of district residents and tourists in other parts of the country.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the 102 km-long single line dual gauge railway from Chattogram’s Dohazari to Cox’s Bazar at the eye-catching seashell-shaped station in Jhilongja on Saturday amid much fanfare.
Highlighting the significance of establishing a rail link to Cox's Bazar, Hasina noted that the project represents the realisation of a longstanding dream for the people in the region.
"Our vision is for people to travel from northern Bangladesh, including places like Panchagarh, to Cox's Bazar by train. Connectivity is crucial, and we envision trains arriving not only from the north but also from Rajshahi, Khulna, and the Sundarbans," she said during the inauguration ceremony.
With the opening of the railway bridge over the Padma River, it will also facilitate connectivity between Cox's Bazar and the south-western parts of the country, according to the prime minister.
"This railway line is supposed to extend up to Ghumdhum. We plan to connect it to the Trans Asian Railway. The development of this railway is in keeping with that aim."
After inaugurating the Dohazari-Cox's Bazar railway, Hasina accompanied guests to the main platform of the station and engaged with officials to gain insights into its operations. She then purchased a ticket at the counter to travel to Ramu by train. The train's maiden journey began as she blew the whistle and waved a green flag.
Businesses and entrepreneurs believe the new rail link will facilitate agricultural production and fishing, along with connection to megaprojects that are crucial for industries and export-import operations.
Cox’s Bazar is bedecked with banners and festoons while the seashell-shaped station has been decorated extensively to mark the occasion.
The beach town was inaccessible by train prior to the inception of the ground-breaking project, Originally known as the 'Dohazari to Cox's Bazar via Ramu and Ramu to Ghumdhum Single Line Dual Gauge Track' project, its objective was to establish a 129.58-km railway line.
However, construction of the segment between Ramu and Ghumdhum was eventually halted. Presently, 100.83 km of railway track has been completed, linking Dohazari in Chattogram to Cox's Bazar.
The project has introduced rail infrastructure to several areas, including Chandanaish, Satkania, Lohagara, Cox's Bazar Sadar, and Ramu within Chattogram. Chandanaish was the only area with pre-existing tracks up to Dohazari, with the rest being developed as part of the project.
Besides the rail link, Hasina will inaugurate the channel of Matarbari Deep Seaport in the district’s Moheshkhali and launch the construction of the port’s terminal in the afternoon.
She will also inaugurate the 1,200 megawatt coal-fired power plant in Matarbari and a project to connect Kutubdia island to the national grid by submarine cable.