Bangladesh Railway needs to focus on service oriented goal
Railways are running at a loss. It is increasing every year. Most of the railway officials see this as an excuse not to increase 'service safety'. Although 'modern' coach engines are added to the fleet, speed is not increasing. However, in the last era, almost 85 thousand crores of railway development projects have been implemented. Development projects worth around 2.5 lakh crore taka are ongoing. Most of the trains that are running are running with half of the scheduled coaches. It also increases the risk of passenger suffering. Dilapidated railways and endangered level crossings continue to claim lives. We are restless to hear various promises including increasing passenger services, running trains according to schedule, and stopping the black market of tickets. Various aspects were discussed with the aim of improving railways, stopping illegal level crossings, increasing the speed of trains and ensuring passenger service and safety. Still, as it goes, no change.
According to the sources of the Railway Operation, Traffic and Mechanical Department, the present government has launched 150 new trains with the purchase of 104 stations, 520 passenger coaches, 74 engines, and 516 wagons along with the construction of 500 km of new railways. Despite extensive development, no train is able to increase its speed. The train is running at an average speed of 67 kmph. However, currently, 366 passenger trains are running with new coaches. 50 freight trains are running. The engine is supposed to run at a speed of 120 to 130 km. There are currently 484 railway stations in operation. Almost all stations are open. Only 7 stations including Airport, Kamalapur, Chattogram, Sylhet, Rajshahi are surrounded by security. Almost all the stations are unclean. The problem of hawkers in stations is increasing day by day. Somewhere selling fruits on the platform. Handmade food items are being sold at stations and trains. Some of the hawkers claim that they do business with the 'donation' of the railway concerned. When asked why stations and trains cannot be hawker-free, concerned railway officials said that many people's livelihood is involved. So, the railway authorities may or may not intentionally pretend not to see.
According to ticket holders, each train carries almost twice as many passengers as seats. According to the Railways, despite an average of 79 percent ticket sales, the number of passengers is more than double the number of seats. As a result, the ticketed passengers were crowded with non-ticketed passengers and suffered extreme hardships. The leaders of the train guard association claimed that the violence against the ticketless people on the train is the highest. It is heard that the railways are silent because of their fear. Railways have no role in ensuring passenger service and safety.
Railways and bridges are not properly renovated. Illegal level crossings are not closed and security personnel and gates are not ensured. Operations and traffic departments have been running trains at extreme risk for years. Most of the senior officials of railways or ministries are busy accepting and implementing new projects. No more headaches about line renovations closed stations and running trains.
There was a time when students or we also used to write essays about journeys by train when we traveled somewhere. The train journey is the most convenient for many. If you get on the train, you can reach it at the specified time. Where it takes an average of three hours to go from Dhaka airport to Motijheel. There you can easily go to Mymensingh, Brahmanbaria, Bangabandhu Jamuna Bridge to Sirjganj or other distant places by train. I was saying if you can sit on the train because it is very painful to be stuck in a traffic jam for hours on the road, here this problem is less. The world has now moved forward, even in developed countries of the world there is an opportunity to travel everywhere by rail. In many countries of the world, we have the opportunity to go to the office every day from a distance of two or three hours. How far Bangladesh has progressed. It is very promising that our engineers have restarted the broken demo train with their own technology.
Bangladesh is now introducing digital systems in everything. But we still have to fight about where exactly the train will stop, and which compartment will be there. We find it difficult to understand and accept why the Railways cannot decide. Even if the compartment numbers are not written in the visible place above the train compartment, it is unclear. As a result of which an impossible kind of confusion and suffering is created. Running, hurrying, a strange situation arises. In this gap, dishonest people do their bidding. Then there is the violence of ticket black marketers. A ticket of one hundred rupees is always three hundred rupees. But how long will this last? When will this be fixed? Bangladesh Railway cannot solve what? Of course, it can. Therefore, to ensure passenger service, urgent initiatives must be taken in all these matters.
To ensure the service and safety of ticket holders. Stopping without tickets should be strict. Railway officials are concerned, ticket-selling companies should be held accountable to stop the ticket black market. In addition, dilapidated lines should be renovated. Many people fell ill due to the jolt of the train. To ensure service and safety, the cooperation of passengers and people is also required. Blocking is not possible without a ticket. It is also the responsibility of the passengers to board the train after buying the ticket. Besides, accidents are happening at level crossings. Railway renovation, station, and train cleanliness will be brought under the accountability of officials and employees.
There are complaints that the checkers, TTs, attendants and even the railway police inside the train do not look closely at those who have bought tickets at fixed prices. Their target is those who often board the train without buying a ticket. Thousands and millions of people travel by train everywhere in the world at the lowest fare, especially in Europe, and America, tourists who travel from this part of Europe to this part of Europe, they all choose the night train. The reason for taking it is clear, without paying hotel rent, spending the night inside the train, arriving at the destination the next day at the specified time, no stopping on the road, no chain pulling, even without a mosquito, banana, nutshell in sight, a beer or two or another. Not a single drink bottle in sight. Because there are specific places to drop off. Railway authorities have to think about it if we tell them whether there is such a system inside any of our trains.
We all know about the good railway system of our neighboring countries all over India. Many have experience of two-time travel also our railway officials can get some experience their railway management is also very good; Sri Lanka railway system is very good. When Lalu Prasad Yadav came in as the former Railway Minister of India, he reduced the fares and increased the revenue of the railways. Journalists wanted to know from Lalu Prasad, how is it possible. Mr. Lalu Prasad replied, if every passenger travels by buying a train ticket, then it will be profitable. In that case, you can see with your own eyes the work of dishonest officials and employees of Bangladesh Railway if you travel.
Bathrooms in dirty trains are deplorable. All compartments are filled with thousands of mosquitoes. We are tired of different promises at different times. We have promised to deliver from Dhaka to Chittagong in just four hours. Then the bullet train, underground commuters and more!
To overcome this situation, railways should take practical steps to increase the quality of passenger service. Transparency and accountability in railway management should be ensured first. The government needs to find out what they have invested heavily in railways to achieve. Has that goal been achieved? If so, how much should also be assessed?
Hiren Pandit is a columnist and researcher