Sunday, January 20, 2019 | ePaper

Overcrowded Dhaka-N'ganj rail route needs attention

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THE sorry state of Dhaka-Narayanganj rail route has worsened, though it was the first broad-gauge rail track of the then British India government. As per news media, some 1.4 lakh commuters use Dhaka-Narayanganj route everyday. Commuters have to struggle and suffer each day to ensure a place to atleast stand in a compartment due to shortages of trains. Over the years, the commuters between the city Corporations have increased manifold and the people's mobility due to rapid urbanization, voluminous trade, expanded service sector, and Narayanganj's proximity to the capital city.

But the rail communication has not developed while road communication becomes highly disturbed for seemingly permanent traffic congestion on the highway. Instead of constructing flyovers involving huge amounts of money, the government should focus in modernizing railway communication.

In most cases, passengers thronged in the overcrowded compartments of the Demo trains while traders use the train as goods carrier. Usually three people have to share a two-man seat but, the authorities are least bothered. Besides, the train usually takes 15-30 minutes extra to pass 18 kilometers. Apart from the weekly and official holidays, 16 pairs of passenger trains make 32 Up and Down trips on this route from 5:30am to 11:00pm.

The trains are always operated under risk due to overloading of passengers as each train carries passengers more than five times its capacity. Besides, railway bogies are of very low graded ones. There's no usable toilet and sufficient light.

Along the rail tract, many makeshift markets, fruit shops, and shanties were built that are somehow responsible for the low speed. Hundreds of thousands of commuters commute between the two cities everyday but the Railway Ministry is not aware about the plights of the commuters in this route. Instead of broadening the highways involving huge budgetary allocation, the government should opt for modernizing the railways as it is perhaps the only sustainable solution for daily commuters between the two cities.

The government throughout the years has taken several initiatives to replace old meter-meter by broad-gauge railway and invested comparatively huge amounts in developing train service basically between the Dhaka-Chittagong routes. But the Dhaka-N'ganj route is still outside its priority. If the government eases the route and speeds up the train communication between the two cities, the exodus of people towards the capital city would be stopped and the burden on Dhaka would be phased out.

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