The accident in Moulvibazar’s Kulaura upazila on June 23, in which four people lost their lives and over a hundred others were injured, points incontrovertibly to the abject lack of maintenance and oversight of the railway tracks and rolling stock across the country. The railway secretary mentioned two possible reasons for the derailment of the Upaban Express: misaligned carriage wheels or faulty lines. Other likely reasons are the excess speed of the train at the time of the accident and overloading of passengers. We hope the inquiry would be able to specify the reasons.
Railway remains the most neglected of all public mass transport systems in the country, although the sector has tremendous potential. The sector is incurring losses on a regular basis because of its depleting resources, a lack of investment, manpower crisis, mismanagement and corruption. Post-independence, Bangladesh Railway could hardly expand its network. Presently, there are 2,877 kilometres of railway network across the country. Although we have heard that the government has prepared a master plan to expand the railway network to 4,700 kilometres, we haven’t heard of any concrete action being taken as of now.
What this latest accident has proved is that the railway administration is not even capable of properly maintaining the existing railway networks and other technical matters. If the reasons are its limited manpower and a lack of resources, the government should address these issues with urgency. Since the railway minister vowed to make the sector more service-oriented and pro-people earlier this year, we would like to know precisely what steps have been taken by the ministry to make that happen. In order to make train travel safe for the passengers, railway should be run by efficient people and corruption in the sector should be eliminated.