Wednesday, May 22, 2019 | ePaper

Train fare hike would be unjustified without improving service quality

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THE Railway authorities are planning another spell of passenger fare hike by 25 per cent on an average without improving their services. Though overabundant passengers use railway for safe mood of transportation, the Railway sector is surprisingly a losing concern of the government for, what we do believe, high corruption and endless mismanagement. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently announced about laying emphasis on Railway development and making it more popular with introducing clean and sustainable transport system. Without increasing quality of service along with curbing systematic corruption and mismanagement, the stride to fare hike would backfire. We hope the Ministry concerned will realize the pulse of citizens and refrain from increasing the fare.
Lastly, in February 2016, the government increased train fares by 7.23 per cent on an average while in October 2012 the fare was increased by 50 per cent to 115 per cent promising improved services. But the situation remains all the same for years on end with an inadequate number of trains, schedule failure, unfriendly stations and platforms, lack of security, poor parcel and goods services and an increasing number of fatal accidents at unmanned and unauthorized level-crossings. In 2018, a total of 242 people were killed and 227 injured at 232 level-crossing accidents while 229 people were killed in 211 level-crossing accidents in the previous year.
Railways Minister is now taking preparations to increase train fares between 23 and 64 per cent based on the route in the upcoming budget mentioning that the proposal was placed in line with the permanent tariff measure guideline prepared 2016 under the Asian Development Bank's condition.
Bangladesh Railway has planned to implement some mega projects including introduction of bullet train between Dhaka and Chattogram. We do agree, a robust railway system could play a crucial service in economic development. But, what is most disappointing that, many of the projects undertaken over the years have been stumbling along, and missing deadlines.
In the context of widespread corruption, inefficiency and mismanagement; the Railway authorities cannot justify yet another hike of fare.

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