BR move to increase Subarna air-conditioned bogies backfires
A decision of Bangladesh Railway (BR) to increase high-priced air-conditioned compartments reducing low-priced ones in Subarna Express, the country's most popular train service on Chittagong-Dhaka route, backfired on the first day yesterday.
The BR Eastern Zone officials of the port city, however, hoped that the scenario would be changed very shortly and the new decision would be paid off.
The train left Chittagong Railway Station at 7:07am, seven minutes delay from schedule, with 267 out of the 495 AC 'Snigdha' seats being empty and all the 360 non-AC 'Shuvan' seats filled with passengers.
Sources said the BR authorities took the decision about two weeks ago to increase the AC bogies to nine from the previous four ones and decrease the non-AC bogies to six from 10 with a view to raising earnings of the beleaguered sector.
The fare of Snigdha class is Tk 380, while Shuvan is Tk 165. Because of its cheaper rate, comfortable journey and non-stop service, there has been a craze and high demand among common and middle-class passengers to travel by the train. The tickets especially of the Shuvan class were often sold out well in advance.
Passengers travelling the train yesterday expressed their displeasure over the railway's new decision, saying that it would serve no good for the common passengers.
“The AC service of Subarna never received its expected feedback in the past when usually half of those seats remain vacant, the BR's decision to increase further the AC seats is amazing and bore no logic,” some passengers told The Daily Star at the railway station prior to departure of the train.
When contacted, Divisional Railway Manager Ibrahim Khalilullah said occupancy ratio (nearly half) of the AC seats on the first day after the new decision was quite satisfactory and believed that it would increase further in the coming summer.
“Let's wait and see whether our new decision proves to be feasible and popular or not. Depending on the public response in future, we may take another decision,” he added.