Railway sector needs reform
THOUGH most of the trains running in the country's northwestern and southern regions face delay mainly due to inadequate capacity of railway tracks, Bangladesh Railway is adding new trains in the regions without proper assessment, worsening the situation further. The BR now operates 42 trains in Joydebpur-Ishwardi section with a 174-km single track that connects the capital with the Western Zone via Bangabandhu Bridge. The Joydebpur-Ishwardi section has a capacity of smoothly operating a maximum of 22 trains a day. And to handle trains more than that, it has to apply "block system" that allows only one train to run at a time from one station to the next one, forcing other trains to wait. The BR introduced four intercity trains in the Western Zone in the last six months with the latest one starting operation from Dhaka to Kurigram on October 16.
The Railway authorities select more routes under pressure and lobbying from influential people without any assessment of whether these routes would be financially viable. The claim is refuted by BR which states that there can be no political influence on routes. But we see, the government is introducing Express trains only to show off its development work despite a lack of required infrastructure. It is similar to a previous government setting up electric poles but not generating the required amount of electricity demanded at the time. So while statistically it is true that there is a demand for more trains it is equally true that without the required infrastructure simply adding more trains won't solve the problem.
So, proper assessment--not political pressure -- is needed for the railways to flourish. A sector which is plagued by corruption in selling and buying wagons, coaches, locomotives, modernisation of the signalling systems, making of double line, single line dual gaze, land acquisition, importing of new machinery instead of mobilising its current workshops to repair those, selling of tickets in the black market, and the leasing process of passenger trains. Railway employees are depriving consumers from promised services by selling and providing low quality and unhealthy food to the passengers with high price tags. Reforms are essential if the trains are to run on time in a proper fashion.