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Wednesday, April 3, 2019 11:02:02 PM
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All olds aren't gold

Rlys staggering with date-expired engines

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Reza Mahmud :
Bangladesh Railways  are  staggering with date-expired locomotives. Most of the railway engines have to be repaired in order to keep the wheels of the railways on the track.
"We have 272 locomotives only, of which 78 engines are within the given date, while 194 locomotives are beyond," said Tapas Kumar Das, Director (Locomotive) Bangladesh Railway to The New Nation over cell phone.
He said that most of the locomotives have crossed their expiry dates 20 years ago. That means the locomotives which should have been rested are still being used.
Many of those locomotives are being used for 50 to 60 years even after their expiry dates.
Officials of the railway said, there were 486 locomotives in Bangladesh Railway in the year of the independence. So, the diminishing number and  the dreadful condition of  the engines tell the harrowing tale of the railway.
After the independence, proper care of the railway has not been taken for undisclosed reasons.   They said that the  apathy to  buying new engines for replacements of the old ones has  not been blissful for the railway.
As a result the locomotives' number is now 272 or 270.
A good number of the date-expired engines have been sent to Syedpur Railway workshop for renovation and repairing.
As a result, the trains cannot maintain time table and off and on meet accidents though there is no report of casualties.
Officials of the railway said preferring anonymity; the authorities appear  reluctant to buy locomotives right now.
Observers are of the opinion that the economic development of the country depends to some extent on the development of railway. Gladly the Prime Minister has recently expressed her firm will to uplift the railway.
But a section of dishonest higher officials are behind the pitiable state of railway.
"Certainly few of our development partners do not want  to see our railway as a powerful transport sector. Those donor countries are more interested to profit than our  interest. So, we shall tell our policy makers to count our national interest," said Badiul Alam Majumder, Secretary of Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (SUJON) on Sunday.
He said, "It is clear to all that there were 486 locomotives in our railway before the independence. After the independence the number of  the locomotives was supposed to increase. But the result is  totally reversed. Why? It makes a clear sense that our policy makers are playing wrong."
Officials of the rail said, there are some locomotives made by General Motors of USA in 1950. The then Pakistan government bought 40 engines in 1953 from the USA. Most of those engines are in museums in other countries. But those are active in our railway.
"If  an officer or an engineer is asked about the average speed of an express and inter-city train between Dhaka and Chattogram,  he can give a correct reply. But observers say that speed is not enough comparing with the speed of the trains in India or China.
Engineers of the railway said they and their technicians are irritated for repeatedly repairing work of those engines.
Meanwhile, a high-ranking official said, new locomotives are in pipelines.
"New 100 locomotives are in pipelines for meter gage lines and  40 engines are for broad gage tracks," he said.
The director said,   those new locomotives are being imported from the USA and South Korea.
The Bangladesh Railway has two zones and four divisions. The  East and the West Zones with headquarters  in Dhaka and Rajshahi. The divisions are Paksey, Lalmonirhat, Dhaka and Chattogram.
Railway transport in Bangladesh began on 15 November 1862, when 53.11 km of 5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm) (broad gauge) line was opened between Darshana in Chuadanga District and Jogotee in Kushtia District On 4 January 1885, a further 14.98 km 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3/8 in) (metre gauge) line was opened.
The glory of the railway is the Harding Bridge on the River Padma at Paksey. It is more than one mile in length and has two lanes broad-gauge lines and a steel foot path for the people living on both sides of the river.

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