Tk 14,531 crore BR projects to double capacity

Bangladesh Railway (BR) is buying new engines and coaches and installing new lines and rehabilitating old ones at a cost of Taka 14,531 crore aiming to double its capacity by 2015.

Bangladesh Railway

Under 31 separate development projects, the Railway is procuring 120 new locomotives, 539 passenger coaches and 466 wagons with the assistance from South Korean Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Indian Dollar Credit Line, Md Abu Taher, BR Director General told

Besides, the railway undertook another six projects to install 489 kilometers of new rail lines, resume service on 133- kilometer closed rail lines and develop Dhaka-Chittagong line into fully double line within next three years.

"The present Awami League government has set a time bound vision before the railway so that the once reliable and popular train communication could reemerge as the main mode of communication in Bangladesh," Taher said.

The railway boss hoped for completion of the time bound development projects, saying that all depended on timely release of fund from the government.

The DG said a total of 137 stations remained closed across the country due to lack of necessary manpower. The railway launched initiatives to recruit about 7275 officials for different posts. After completion of the recruitment the closed stations will be reopened.

The present government during last three years launched 12 pairs of new trains on Dhaka-Chittagong, Dhaka-Rangpur, Dhaka- Rajshahi, Dhaka-Narayangonj, Lalmonirhat-Burimari, Bonarpara- Dinajpur, Kaonia-Rangpur, Maymensingh-Jariajanzail and Chittagong-Nazirhat and routes.

Railway also lunched rehabilitation of about 500 kilometers of intersection lines including Parbatipur-Birol, Mymensingh- Dewangonj, Sayedpur-Chilahati, Laksham-Chandpur, Rajshahi- Rohanpur, Fatehabat-Nazirhat, Sholoshahar-Dohazari, Lalmonirhat- Burimari, Dhaka-Naryangonj and Shaymgonj-Mohangonj.

The railway has currently 2835 kilometers of lines, 440 stations, 290 locomotives, 1500 passenger coaches and 9970 wagons.

The DG said as the previous governments did not concentrate on the sector, 223 out of 290 locomotives expired the economic lifeline of 20 years and 103 locomotives exceeded over 40 years of age. Railway faced problems in maintaining timetable which is expected to improve after recruiting the manpower and procuring signaling equipment.

Taher said slow pace in releasing necessary fund is a main problem in achieving the visionary plan within stipulated time. The Finance Ministry only released Tk 480 crore out of Tk 3500 crore government allocation for the fiscal 2011-12.

The capacity of Bangladesh Railway (BR) has been dwindling since the independence of the country against increasing demand for rail service.

BR operates 283 passenger trains in 44 districts while there is a plan to introduce railway service in 20 other districts.