One of the biggest railway projects financed by ADB, the Bangladesh SASEC Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar Rail Project includes the construction of a 103-km greenfield rail line and involves significant environment and social safeguard challenges. Various innovative measures were taken to address the challenges—including construction of the world’s first elephant overpass. Significant economic benefits are expected from the new railway.

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The Asian Development Bank is supporting the construction of a 103.5-kilometer railway line in Bangladesh, connecting Dohazari to Cox's Bazar in Chittagong (Chattogram). The project aims to stimulate economic development, boost tourism, and enhance regional connectivity. 

Mohammad Mofizur Rahman, Project Director, Chattogram – Cox’s Bazar Railway Project, Bangladesh Railways

"In this part of Bengal, the railway started in 1873 and our project alignment starts from that Dohazari end. There are nine stations as we have started from Dohazari. It is a commercial as well as a river port."

Tika Limbu, Principal Portfolio Management Specialist, ADB Bangladesh Resident Mission

"This project is part of the SASEC (South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation) railway corridor. In future, it will connect even Myanmar, Southeast Asia and to (the People’s Republic of) China."

Given that the railway line passes through several elephant corridors and three protected areas Chunati Wildlife Sanctuary, Fasiakhali Wildlife Sanctuary, and Methakatchpia National Park. Several environmental protection and biodiversity conservation measures are being implemented as required by the ADB safeguard policy. 

Karma Yangzom, Principal Environment Specialist, Asian Development Bank

"ADB is actively promoting green infrastructure. One aspect of green is making them wildlife friendly."

Norris Dodd, International Wildlife and Biodiversity Consultant, Asian Development Bank

"Along the railway alignment, the Bangladesh Railways has constructed a whole series of elephant crossing structures. We have one specifically design overpass for elephants, which will be the first in the world, and then we have two designated wildlife underpasses, elephant underpasses."

Asif Imran, National Consultant, Environment Safeguards, Dohazari – Cox’s Bazar Railway Project, Asian Development Bank

"This underpass and that overpass and in between these we have several oversized culverts that have the height measurement of the elephant."

Norris Dodd, International Wildlife and Biodiversity Consultant, Asian Development Bank

"Along with the other 97.7% of the alignment which is 103 kilometers long we will look at doing sensor technology."

Stefan Schwarz, CEO, Bernard Gruppe, ADB Consultant
Michael Schussek, Manager, Electro-technical division, Bernard Gruppe, ADB Consultant

"We are using artificial intelligence to use data we get from the sensors to make them intelligent then to give us real-time the information if there is an elephant present or not. This is a thermal camera that will pick up the temperature of the elephant and optical camera that will have a visual inspection."

Noor Jahan, Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation Officer, Wildlife Management and Nature Conservation Division, Chattogram

"The flora and fauna of Chunati Wildlife Sanctuary occupy a very important position in the biodiversity of South Asia. 287 hectares of the forest have been afforested under the railway project under habitat enrichment plantation."

The project has significant social and resettlement impacts.

Laureen Laurito, Social Development Specialist, Asian Development Bank

"Bangladesh Railways has prepared a resettlement plan. The RP (resettlement plan) is in line with the Government of Bangladesh as well as the ADB’s policy for involuntary resettlement safeguards."

Mohammad Salim, Deputy Director, Resettlement, Signal & Telecommunication, Bangladesh Railway

"Our project has the scope to do the livelihood improvement program. From each household we choose one person to do the training."

Rabeya Basri, Project Beneficiary

"Railway gave us money. We built a new home with that money. We got training from them, sewing and tailoring training."

Edimon Ginting, Country Director, ADB Bangladesh Resident Mission

"Bangladesh’s growth has been concentrated in Dhaka and Chittagong (Chattogram). With good connectivity to Cox’s Bazar, every year about 2 million people visit Cox’s Bazar, and that improve significantly down the line."