Modernisation efforts underway to address BR’s aging infrastructure


The current state of the Bangladesh Railway reveals a system struggling under the weight of its outdated infrastructure.

The extensive use of locomotives, carriages, wagons, and relief cranes beyond their economic lives significantly contributes to the substandard services provided to passengers.

Despite ongoing development projects worth thousands of crores of taka, the railway’s capacity to deliver quality service remains hampered by its reliance on ageing rolling stock.

Statistics reveal a troubling picture: Nearly 40% of locomotives, 46% of passenger carriages, 72% of freight wagons, and 63% of relief cranes are overdue for replacement.

This over-reliance on old equipment not only reduces efficiency but also increases maintenance frequency, reducing the availability of rolling stock for actual service.

For instance, only 77.55% of locomotives were available for service on May 18, 2024, highlighting the high unavailability due to maintenance.

The present modernization initiatives, including the conversion of meter gauge tracks to broad gauge and the procurement of new rolling stock, are crucial steps in the right direction.

The vision to shift entirely to broad gauge tracks is particularly noteworthy, as it aligns with international standards and could potentially enhance the efficiency and safety of railway operations.


Despite the ongoing 28 development projects with an estimated cost of Tk 1,40,109.78 crore, improvements in service quality remain to be seen.

The significant investment drawn from project assistance sources and government funds underscores the commitment to improvement, but the effectiveness of these projects hinges on their timely and efficient execution.

The challenge lies in balancing the immediate need for operational efficiency with the long-term goal of comprehensive modernization.

The railway administration must prioritize the procurement of new rolling stock and the systematic phasing out of outdated equipment. Additionally, enhancing maintenance protocols to ensure quicker turnaround times for repairs can improve the availability of rolling stock.

While the Bangladesh Railway is indeed burdened by its ageing infrastructure, the ongoing efforts to modernize the system provide a glimmer of hope.

The successful implementation of these projects, coupled with a strategic approach to rolling stock management, can potentially transform the railway into a more reliable and efficient mode of transport.

The key will be to maintain momentum and ensure that the significant investments translate into measurable improvements in service quality for passengers.