Initiative taken to amend the hundred-year old Railways Act

06 October 2022

Staff Reporter :
An Initiative has been taken to add new sections and sub-sections to the Railways Act, 1890 to bring innovation in the services. Currently, Bangladesh Railway is running on hundred year-old laws. As a result, the authorities have to face problems in making decisions in many cases.
New matters are being added to the railways day by day. Moreover, the amount of fine and compensation in railways are very insufficient compared to the present time. In this context, authorities of the Bangladesh Railway have taken the initiative to modernize the 132-year-old laws.
For that purpose, a draft law has been prepared through a private consulting firm. It has recommended adding different new issues in railway management as well as increasing compensation to the passengers affected by the accidents.
Apart from this, the formation of insurance fund has also been proposed in the draft law. At the same time, the draft has proposed to increase the extent of

punishment in various matters including obstruction of railway services.
The Government or the Railway Administration may constitute a fund in the name of 'Insurence Fund' to fulfill the objectives of the proposed Act. Moreover, a new clause is being added to the Act to prevent transfer of tickets issued in the name of a person for traveling by train.
A condition has also been added that one has to travel in his specific booked seat or berth. In that case, the passenger's seat or berth cannot be changed at his or her will. However, any authorized railway employee may approve the change of his or her seat at the request of the passenger.
The draft law has already been submitted to the cabinet department, said the insiders of the Ministry of Railways.
Sources said, railway operations started in Bangladesh region in 1862. The then British government enacted the Railways Act, 1890, in 1890 in order to bring the railway services under a structure and to establish a regulatory authority.
Bangladesh Railway is still being operated with that 132-year-old law. However, after the independence, some sections of the Act have been amended which increased the amount of fines and compensation in railway accidents.
The new railway law has recommended a maximum compensation of Tk 5 lakh for accidents. Earlier it was only Tk 10,000. Moreover, in the new law, the extent of punishment is being increased in various matters including obstruction of railway services.
The existing law provides a maximum compensation of Tk 10,000 if a passenger, who has a train ticket with him, dies in a train accident. And the existing law does not mention any specific compensation for the passengers injured in train accidents.
However, the new law recommends a maximum compensation of Tk 1 lakh in case of amputation, Tk 2 lakh in case of permanent blindness, Tk 50,000 in case of permanent hearing loss and Tk 1 lakh in case of broken or displacement of any bone and loss of any tooth.
Apart from this, the draft has also proposed to increase the level of various punishments. Among them, if the train is stopped by pulling the alarm chain for no reason, one passenger has to face one year imprisonment or a fine of Tk 5000 or both. At present, in that case, there is a provision of imprisonment for one month or a fine of Tk 200 or both.
Dr Md Humayun Kabir, Secretary of the Ministry of Railways, said, "The Railways Act was made in English during the British period. It is now being translated into Bengali and revised by adding some clauses and sub-clauses. The draft has already been prepared and submitted to the cabinet. It will then be passed by the National Parliament after final approval by the Cabinet through vetting by the Law Ministry."

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