Bangladesh railway needs serious fixing
It is generally believed that the potential of Bangladesh Railway to become a major revenue earner for the country has never been properly exploited by those who run this important service sector. Some decades-old problems continue to plague it at a time when railways in developed countries have become synonymous with superior customer service and punctuality. The sector needs dedicated planners and operators with a modern vision to improve the quality of service and to make it profitable.
According to a report by this daily, railway officials have identified a number of chronic problems bedevilling the sector. To begin with, the current 3,093-kilometre rail track being mostly single line, the authorities cannot increase the number of locomotives and compartments. They need double lines to reduce travel time. Furthermore, with most bridges under the rail network having outlived their natural life span, trains cannot pick up speed there nor carry extra load for fear of accidents. Therefore, new bridges should be built replacing the old ones. Also, only 124 stations under the BR, out of the total 359, operate with a modern signalling system, while the rest depend on the old system. A modern signalling system is vital to ensure safety and punctuality.
There is no denying that a modern railway system must have, under its wings, a number of workshops with state-of-the-art equipment to undertake repair works on a regular basis, especially after any accident to put the engines in operation without losing time. But the railway lacks such workshops.
The BR is also in need of major renovation and modernisation to stay in the race. Projects taken up by the BR in this connection must be given the highest priority by relevant officials. In reality, however, projects often get delayed for no plausible reasons. We are told that most projects aimed at improving its infrastructure and rolling stocks get delayed for several reasons, such as delays in getting project approval, land acquisition, appointment of consultants, lack of coordination among relevant agencies, and delay in accessing funds from foreign lenders. A sliver of hope, experts say, is that Padma Bridge will open up opportunities for the BR to earn revenue in the coming days.
But all those problems that persist today threaten to nullify any progress achieved. The relevant authorities, therefore, should urgently undertake the measures and reforms needed for the unimpeded operation and modernisation of Bangladesh Railway, so that it can turn into a profit-making and passenger-friendly service sector.