Now improve train services
Passengers were looking for better train services as they started buying tickets at higher prices yesterday.
The railways ministry has hiked the ticket fares and freight charges by 7.23 percent on average to cut losses.
Shortage of tickets, uncomfortable seats, filthy toilets, delay in schedule and overcrowding are some major problems facing the railway.
Talking to The Daily Star at Kamalapur Railway Station yesterday, passengers said the railway authorities must improve services to justify the hike.
As per the revised fares, a Shovon Chair passenger has to pay Tk 345 for a trip to Chittagong from Dhaka against the previous fare of Tk 320. A journey from Dhaka to Khulna would now cost a passenger Tk 505, up from Tk 465.
People will have to pay Tk 9,650 for carrying 15 tonnes of goods on a 20-feet-long wagon from Dhaka to Chittagong Port. Previously, the charge was Tk 9,000.
Shariat Ahmed, passenger of a Khulna-bound train, said most of the seats in coaches are worn and dirty.
“Toilets are sometimes so filthy that I would throw up. There is hardly any water,” said Rumi Ahkter, before leaving Dhaka for Bhairab of Kishoreganj.
Due to the perennial seat crisis, the railway authorities sell standing tickets on many routes.
“Most of the time I used to travel standing all the way to Mymensingh as I don't get any seat ticket. Standing for several hours make me tired. Besides, there are too many passengers for comfort,” said government employee Jahirul Islam who frequents Mymensingh.
Almost all the trains run at least half an hour behind schedule, complained passengers.
After about 20 years, fares of both passenger and freight services were raised by 50 percent in October, 2012 for the first time.
Railway Secretary Feroz Salah Uddin said they were trying hard to improve the train services.
Bangladesh Railway incurs a loss of around Tk 1,000 crore annually. After the implementation of the new fares, the state-run organisation would earn only an additional Tk 45 crore a year, he mentioned.
Maruf Hossain, programme manger of Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust, an NGO campaigning for improved railway services, said the authorities must curb corruption and ensure proper management of the railway's resources to recoup its losses.