For the first time in its history, Bangladesh Railway (BR) is introducing a locomotive simulator to train entry-level loco masters.
The move came at a time when BR is facing a serious shortage of instructors and loco masters to operate trains, forcing many of them to work extra hours to keep the service operational, officials said.
The state-of-the-art motion simulators will help entry-level loco masters cut short their field-level training period, improve skills and ultimately help government’s bid to enhance the service, they added.
BR has set up the diesel locomotive simulators -- one broad gauge and another meter gauge (MG) -- nearby Kamalapur Railway Station at a cost of Tk 15.60 crore. Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan will inaugurate the locomotive simulators today.
Spanish firm “Lander Simulator and Training Solution” supplied the simulators. The company also constructed the building where those were installed and provided training to four persons including three instructors, said Project Director Nur Ahmed Hossain.
Under the same project worth Tk 733 crore, aided by Asian Development Bank, BR will procure 10 MG locomotives and four relief cranes.
At present, BR has 1,129 loco masters, sub-loco masters and assistant loco masters against the sanctioned post of 1,742. Usually, senior loco masters train the entry-level ones. BR has 386 trains and at least two loco masters (senior and assistant) are required for each.
“Due to a shortage of manpower, train drivers are overworked,” said an official. He said the railway can overcome the situation through fresh recruitment. “But to become a seasoned train driver, a person needs to have at least eight years of experience,” he added.
Md Shamsuzzaman, director general of BR, said, “Use of these simulators will help Bangladesh Railway fill up the shortage as well as develop efficiency of drivers quickly.”
“This way, we will get experienced drivers within the shortest possible time,” he told The Daily Star yesterday.
He said many developed countries use such simulators to train drivers. Introduction of such state-of-the-art device is a historic event for BR, said the DG.
HOW IT WORKS
These custom-made high-tech simulators will run on virtual tracks. In the first phase, 300km parts of the Dhaka-Chattogram and Dhaka-Khulna routes have been digitised and are being used in the simulator, said the project director.
Just like training of pilots, the trainees would be given random situations to deal with in the simulator, which include emergency stops and signal changes.
Asked how it will reduce training period, the project director said after basic training, an assistant loco master has to have more than six months’ field-level experience. This device will reduce it to three months, he said.