Bangladesh Railway has signed a $58.3m contract with Tangshan Railway Vehicle in China to procure 20 sets of commuter trains.
Under the contract, Bangladesh Railway will buy 20 Meter Gauge Diesel Electric Multiple Units (DEMU) including spare parts, tools and equipment, training and services.
Each DEMU contains three units and will carry 300 passengers.
The project is expected to be completed by the end of next year.
Bangladesh Railway has signed a $58.3m contract with Tangshan Railway Vehicle in China to procure 20 sets of commuter trains.
Under the contract, Bangladesh Railway will buy 20 Meter Gauge Diesel Electric Multiple Units (DEMU) including spare parts, tools and equipment, training and services.
Each DEMU contains three units and will carry 300 passengers.
The project is expected to be completed by the end of next year.
The capacity of Bangladesh Railway (BR) has been dwindling since the independence of the country despite the fact that the demand for rail service is growing.
Successive governments' apathy to the sector has made the once reliable mode of transport nearly as unsafe as all other means of road transport. In 2010 alone, there had been a staggering 403 derailment of trains.
Official records show trains used to carry more passengers and freight than did the vehicles on road a couple of decades ago. But the railway's share of carriage has now reduced to just nine percent while that of passengers to four percent.
This is the situation when the country's population doubled and mobility increased by several folds over the last four decades.
“People press for more train stoppages at various district towns every day. They submit memorandums and organise rallies to make their voices heard,” said BR Director General Abu Taher, adding, “But unfortunately, we are unable to address these problems due to poor allocation in the sector.”
BR operates 283 passenger trains in 44 districts while there is no railway service in 20 other districts.
Half of these trains cannot follow their schedules due to frequent derailment or some other reasons, an official of operation department said.
“The shabby condition of most of the rail tracks causes derailment while the locomotives are too old to drag coaches and wagons,” a senior railway official observed.
He said most of the locomotives are four decades old when the average lifespan of a locomotive is 20 years.
This has pushed travellers to depend heavily on road services, which is a reason for frequent accidents and deaths. This situation can be avoided through massive investment and extension of railway, according to many railway officials.
Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain said, “The demand for rail service is immense, but the railway is simply unable to take the huge load.”
However, this situation did not happen just due to fund crunch or inept management of the railways. The BR has also been suffering due to the fact that the government did not increase train fare since 1992.
Officials say that over the decades the government invested miserly on the maintenance of the existing tracks, installing new tracks and purchasing new engines and coaches.
During this period, the railway lost hundreds of kilometres of tracks and many stations.
According to the railway boss, a good number of projects are being implemented to reform the sector and improve its service. However, the fund shortage still remains the main concern.
Under the projects, worn-out tracks will be rehabilitated, new tracks will be constructed, single tracks will be upgraded to double tracks, signalling system will be improved, stations will be modernised and coaches, wagons and engines will be purchased in next three years.
The addition of rail tracks along the bridge on the river Jamuna in 1998 was the major success for BR as it established rail link between the country's eastern and western regions. A total of 23 trains now operate through the bridge every day.
In addition to that, introduction of an express train between Dhaka and Lalmonirhat in 2004, recent inauguration of another intercity train service between Rangpur and Dhaka and resumption of the Maitree train service between Dhaka and Kolkata in 2008 are a few gains of BR.
Bangladesh Railway (BR) is to launch 10 new commuter train services from late 2012. The Tangsung Railway Vehicle Company of China is supplying DMU sets in a deal worth $US 57.31 million. Most routes to be served are in Dhaka and Chittagong. Each 300-passenger set will comprise three coaches bracketed by a motor coach at each end. Meanwhile track doubling is being tackled between Dhaka and its northern suburb of Joydevpur.
On July 27 Bangladesh Railway signed a 14bn taka contract with China Railway Group for double-tracking the 64 km Tongi – Bhairab Bazar section of its Dhaka – Chittagong line and resignalling the entire 320 km route by 2014; the bulk of the funding will come from ADB. Another contract for doubling the 61 km between Laksam and Chinki Astan will be let shortly, funded by JICA.
The railway network has been politically neglected since 1972. The roads and highways are attractive, in a negative way, to some of the political masters. The IWT sector (in this deltaic region) has not achieved the priority it deserves. Our ports are being expanded too slowly (now that the transit issue is 'on').
The cabinet is full of Advisors. The working style of the section officers in the secretariat needs to be updated (too much pen-pushing, causing bureaucratic delays, in the old colonial style).
The district and divisional headquarters have practically no administrative powers; as most people have to come to capital Dhaka to complete their assignments. Bangladesh is a small country, but the density of population is one of the highest in the world. The work load on Dhaka is too much. Dhaka would die if not decentralised, (the MPs don't like it).
Decentralisation is the cheapest way to develop fast; but the political masters have different views. Take a simple example: the government cannot run the taxis and auto-rickshaws using the fare meters. Many roads are banned to the cycle rickshaws, the main conveyance for the majority (and the students) for short distances. There is a lust for mega projects. The shifting of the air force strip from the DCC zone would ease road traffic jams and allow the international airport to expand.
The politicians are not interested in the technical details of daily operation and maintenance (O&M), Public address systems are not the short cuts to popularity and practical development.
There is one huge gap: lack of national consensus on common issues.
CNR Tangshan is to supply BR with 20 three-car metre-gauge commuter DMUs for US$58·3m.
DHAKA, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- At least 5 people were killed when a train collided with a jeep which was driving across an unmanned railway crossing in Bangladesh's port city Chittagong, 242 km southeast of capital Dhaka, on Wednesday morning, police said.
"Five officials were killed when the train rammed into the jeep at a level crossing in Chittagong's Barobkunda rail crossing at about 11:20 a.m. (local time)," the district's police chief, Mohammad ZM Morshed, told Xinhua over phone from Chittagong.
He said two passengers of the jeep who sustained injuries have been rushed to a local hospital.
Morshed said the jeep was carrying the officials of the country 's lone state-owned automobile assembling plant Pragati Industries Limited from its office in Chittagong.
Train accidents are almost common in Bangladesh because of poor signaling and rundown tracks.
Earlier in December last year, at least 21 people were killed in collision between two passenger trains in Bangladesh's Narsingdi district, 51 km northeast of capital Dhaka
Japanese consultants commissioned by the Dhaka Transport Co-ordination Board have proposed a 19·5 km corridor from Uttara to Motijheel via Pallabi with 16 stations for a metro which would be completed in three stages in 2016-20.
A deal is said to have been struck recently with Japan's Marubeni Corporation to procure 11 metre guage locomotives for the Bangladesh Railway (BR) at a cost of Tk 43.9 million (Tk 439 crore), a good part of which would be provided by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), while the government is expected to come up with Tk 30.7 million. The engines are to be manufactured by South Korea and delivered within the next year and a half, primarily to run on the Dhaka-Chittagong line. Over the years the BR has, for some reason, been subjected to utter neglect despite the fact that it is economically and environmentally the most sound and suitable mode of transport, be it for carrying passengers or goods.
Almost always, inadequate and worn-out engines have been blamed for the deteriorating service of the BR. The number of functioning engines available today is said to be almost half of that it had 40 years ago. Therefore the addition of this modest number of engines should be more than welcome and would hopefully show the way for further improvement. Undoubtedly, there is a great deal that needs to be rectified in the rail sector. Procurement of commuter trains and locomotives, though badly needed, cannot by itself make the deplorable decadence go away, unless consistent and persistent attention is given to the details of human resource management, both rank and file, and maintenance of the hardware --- the tracks, signaling systems, engines and the upkeep of the carriages.
Train travellers should be able to enjoy the service without unnecessary hassle and in safety, but on both counts there is much deficit, and the BR had better regain people's trust by clamping down on the corrupt elements in the ticketing section and by guaranteeing security on board. There have been disturbing reports recently of mugging and murders on r unning trains. Black marketeers also have lately been making life extremely difficult for travellers during peak seasons, something that can happen only with the connivance of BR insiders. These anarchic trends must be handled effectively.
Other things that need to be improved include the environment inside the carriages, such as controlling indoor pollution, particularly in so-called air-conditioned compartments which seem to be laden with stale air right from the start of a journey, compounded by wafts of strong ammonia from the toilet and sprays of questionable aerosol 'fresheners' which make a bad situation worse. The Department of Environment should be asked to take a measure of the air quality in these carriages and advise BR on how to clean the air regularly. Frequent travellers on such foul air-conditioned train carriages are more likely, than not, to suffer from respiratory problems and headaches. If air-conditioned coaches cannot be properly maintained, it would be healthier perhaps, even with the dust and noise, to revert to non-AC for inefficient air-conditioning systems can become depots for dozens of contagious diseases.
BR is fraught with many other serious problems that need immediate attention. Disruptions due to faulty engines and carriages and tampered lines and sleepers, are not uncommon. And most of these are allegedly the result of poor work ethics, utter neglect and entrenched corruption that has been allowed to eat at the vitals far too long. In fact, not much investment has been seen in this environment-friendly, economically rational and safe mode of transport. As a result, the sector has suffered persistently from inadequate manpower and material, not to forget, 'politicisation' and its consequent side-effects.
Some efforts were seen in the late 1980s, when a number of surprisingly punctual intercity train services were introduced. Hopes were raised that ol d rail links would be replaced by broad gauge, new lines would be put in place and the whole system would be overhauled and modernised and expanded to serve the entire nation. But the momentum did not last. There are plenty of examples across the world of utterly corrupt entities that manage to be quite efficient and patriotic at the same time. The BR can claim no such credit. If the political will is there, criminal mismanagement can surely be curtailed to some extent, so that the BR can begin to give optimum service.
Bangladesh: Last month BR took delivery of five Hyundai locomotives; an order for 11 more is anticipated.
Railways is a ministry now
Sun, Dec 4th, 2011 4:23 pm BdST
Dial 2000 from your GP mobile for latest news
Dhaka, Dec 4 (bdnews24.com)—The government has 38 ministries now, after the Ministry of Railways has been carved out of the Railways Division under the communications ministry.
The Cabinet Division published a gazette announcing the formation, a government statement said on Sunday, five days after appointing Suranjit Sengupta and Obaidul Quader as ministers.
Train communications are overseen by Bangladesh Railway that was part of the Roads and Railways Division under the communications ministry. The ministry is headed by Abul Hossain, who has been widely criticised for bad condition of roads and highways, and allegation of corruption in the Padma bridge project.
Government sources with knowledge of the developments said Quader is likely to take over the communications ministry.
The government has recently created a separate ministry for the railways. What prompted the government to make a new ministry is not known. It could be just to accommodate a leader of the ruling Awami League or to provide the much-needed facelift to the hitherto neglected Bangladesh Railway (BR) or both.
If the government's move is aimed at improving the BR's operations, the people should have reasons to express guarded optimism for there always remains a wide gap between words and deeds of the government in this part of the world. Men in power in the past had promised improvements in the condition of the BR, but they failed to deliver results. The non-fulfilment of promises has resulted in the BR's conditions going from bad to worse.
The railway is still considered a cheap and comfortable mode of transportation across the world. But in Bangladesh, it is cheap, no doubt, but not at all comfortable. The very name of railway in Bangladesh evokes among the travelling people a picture that is not at all palatable; worn-out passenger carriages and locomotives, ill-maintained railway stations and highly erratic departure and arrival time schedule of trains. And travelling without tickets, courtesy of a section of dishonest BR employees continues to be a dominating feature.
In most cases, most people here avoid train journey except for the festival times, particularly during the celebration of two Eids when reaching home gets priority over comfort. Homebound people are seen making long queues for train tickets before Eid festivals and during normal times they avoid journey by trains.
The lacklustre state of the BR is evident from its annual balance sheets, which has been in the red since 1995-96 fiscal. In fact, the loss being incurred by the state railway has been rising steadily in recent years. In the fiscal 2010-11, the BR suffered a financi al loss of Tk. 7.33 billion. One of the major reasons behind the BR incurring losses remains to be its unchanged fare-chart for years together despite the fact that the price of diesel was adjusted upward, at least, on 17 occasions during that period. The authorities might have refrained from hiking the fares out of the fear that the BR's earning would fall further as more and more people avoid journey by trains in the event of a fare-hike.
Against the backdrop of a substantial rise in the number of people moving from one place to another for economic or other reasons during the last two decades or so, the situation with the BR should have been altogether different. But the BR, sadly enough, has failed to take a fair share of the huge daily passenger traffic. The way the passengers of inter-district buses suffer due to traffic congestions on highways and delays in availing ferries, the railway should have been an attractive alternative before them. For instance, it now takes 10 to 12 hours for a traveler to reach Chittagong from Dhaka, mainly due to traffic gridlocks on highways. But if a train maintains its schedule strictly, it can easily cross the distance in just five hours. But lack of timeliness, ramshackle state of passenger carriages etc., make the trains the least wanted mode of transportation to middle and high income passengers.
The main reason for the BR's decline lies in lack of proper attention on the part of the successive governments. Funds worth billions have been spent on the development of road infrastructures over the years. But the government behaved miserly as far as the improvement of BR is concerned. In fact, a fraction of the amount spent on road infrastructures would have been enough to ensure an acceptable level of improvement of the BR.
Mr. Suranjit Sengupta MP, soon after taking over th e charge of the ministry of railways said its top-most priority would be to ensure strict maintenance of time-schedule of trains. That is important, no doubt. But no less import is the replacement of the existing passenger carriages and locomotives with new ones. The prevailing situation necessitates a radical improvement in the operations of the BR.
Following the creation of the ministry of railways, some people have started talking about the need for preparing a separate budget for the railway which was in existence some years back. But a separate budget could not anyway stop the decline of the BR. So, how the government allocates fund, within or outside the integrated budget, is not that important. The size of the annual allocation and its planned and proper use remain to be the critical factors here.
The improvement of railway cannot be done overnight since implementation of projects and programmes in this area takes a little bit of time. Moreover, the BR is a state organisation that owns prime land areas in Dhaka, Chittagong and other areas of the country. These areas have remained unutilised. Through planned use or sale of the same, the BR can earn a sizeable amount that could be used for its much-desired improvement.
Railway unveils roadmap
30-month plan includes 2 more Dhaka-Tongi tracks, improving passenger service
Bangladesh Railway yesterday unveiled a two-and-a-half-year roadmap to implement 67 projects to develop the long-neglected railway sector.
It focuses on construction of additional tracks to Dhaka-Joydebpur and Dhaka-Narayanganj routes to run trains on time and transport more passengers.
According to the plan, railway will build third and fourth tracks between Kamalapur Railway Station and Tongi junction, where most of the Dhaka-bound trains stop for clearance wasting valuable time of the passengers.
The two additional rail lines will help railway operate more trains on time.
Announcing the plan at Rail Bhaban, Railways Minister Suranjit Sengupta told newsmen, “I have been pressing the donors to fund the two tracks.”
However, he added that he would try to implement second lines for Tongi-Joydebpur and Dhaka-Narayanganj routes.
Two more trains will run on Dhaka-Narayanganj and Dhaka-Joydebpur routes from this month to serve more commuters, mentioned the minister.
Dhaka-bound trains from Rajshahi, Chilahati, Lalmonirhat, Rangpur, Jamalpur and Khulna regions, in many cases, remain stranded at Joydebpur station for hours as the Joydebpur-Tongi route has only a single lane track, said railway officials.
Similarly, trains from Sylhet, Chittagong and Noakhali also stop at Tongi station for clearance from Dhaka as one track is dedicated for the incoming trains and the other for outgoing ones.
Once implemented, the new four tracks would help the authorities run at least 40 more trains between Dhaka and other destinations. At present 72 trains connect the capital with other parts of the country, noted the officials.
“We have a plan to introduce an extra train on the Sylhet-Chatak route from February and one more intercity train on the Dhaka-Sylhet route from April,” said the minister who recently took over the newly created railways ministry.
The roadmap will be implemented in three phases. In the 18-month first phase, the ministry will carry out 21 projects including introduction of new trains on Dhaka-Narayanganj, Dhaka-Joydebpur, Dhaka-Sylhet and Sylhet-Chatak routes.
This phase will also ensure more trains running on schedule and better services to the passengers through recruiting necessary manpower and rehabilitating some poor tracks.
Eleven more projects will be executed in the second phase (July 2012 to June 2013). Many of the closed 160 railway stations will be reopened during this period.
“A large portion of the railway land has been occupied by grabbers. Steps have been taken to recover that…. A committee is working in this regard,” said Suranjit.
During the final phase of the roadmap till June 2014, railway will upgrade the single-track Tongi-Bhairab Bazar and Laksam-Chinki Astana routes into double-track, construct new rail line from Khulna to Mongla Port, remodel the Chittagong Railway Station, develop the Pahartoli workshop and procure several hundred tank wagons, locomotives and coaches.
Besides, many tracks which are now in a poor shape will also be rehabilitated in this phase.
Though there is a fund crunch and a lengthy procedure to follow in purchasing locomotives, wagons and coaches, the minister vowed to implement the roadmap.
“The railway sector has been neglected for a long time. This sector was also a victim of an international conspiracy which saw the expansion of roads and contraction of railways,” he pointed out.
According to a railway statistics, there were only 600-kilometres of roads in the country in 1947 against 2800-kilometres of railway tracks. At present the roads are about 90,000 kilometres while the rail lines have shrunk.
The minister admitted that criminals are peddling drugs and carrying out anti-social activities in many railway stations across the country. Even a section of railway police, security guards, local police, politicians and elected representatives are involved in these crimes, he added.
“This kind of activities will not be allowed any more,” he warned adding, he would also try to make the service of Maitri Express between Dhaka and Kolkata speedy and hassle-free.
PATNA: In a major decision, Bangladesh has decided to open Chilahati-Haldibari rail link latest by December 2012 for easier connectivity with Bhutan and Nepal through India. This route is likely to be the fifth route agreed upon as transit points between these two neighbouring countries.
According to a Railway Board official, Hashimara station in India is hardly 182-km away from Bangladesh's Chilahati station. Incidentally, Hashimara station is located on Bhutan border as well. Passengers can reach Hashimara in about three hours through the proposed Chilahati-Haldibari route, he said. According to him, Jogbani station in India is located only 40-km away from Haldibari and about 52-km away from Bangladesh's Chilahati. The proposed rail link could facilitate passengers from Jogbani bordering Nepal to pass through New Jalpaiguri and Katihar route as well, he said.
Incidentally, the two countries already have four other railway transit points between them: Rahanpur (Chapainawabganj)-Singhabad, Birol (Dinajpur)-Radhikapur, Darsana (Kushtia)-Gede and Kulaura (Moulvibazar)-Mahishashan.
The opening of the rail link between Chilahati and Haldibari will be a revival of old rail link which was operational till 1965, sources said and added the transit route connecting India and Bangladesh was abandoned following the Indo-Pak war in 1965. According to the Board official, railway ministry has asked the Bangladesh rail authority to provide a detailed plan so that the new rail link could be thrown open in the larger interest of people of both the countries. Railways has also sought the time frame in which Bangladesh wants to complete the work of opening the new rail link with India, he said.
According to sources, Bangladesh railways will have to construct about 7.5-km new rail lines from Chilahati to reach the border while Indian Railways will have to build 4.5-km new track from its border to Haldibari station.
It may be recalled that both the countries had inked a pact last year during Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina's visit to the country for opening new rail links with Bangladesh for cultural exchange and various activities between the two countries, sources said. Though the joint declaration between the two countries did not mention this particular route, they later realized that opening of this route would facilitate movement of people from both the countries as well trade and commerce, sources said and added the proposed route would revive easy regional connectivity among members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc).
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 – Malaysia looks set to ink a deal with Bangladesh by month-end to construct the RM6.6 billion Padma Bridge, the country’s largest infrastructure project that ran into controversy last year when the World Bank suspended its funding over suspected corruption in the bidding process.
Special envoy to India and South Asia, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu (picture), told Bernama in an interview that Dhaka will ink a government-to-government (G2G) memorandum of understanding (MoU) later this month which will see a consortium of Malaysian construction companies formed to take up the job.
“Bangladesh has seen our success in building bridges such as the first and second Penang Bridge. (Bangladeshi) Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina requested us to look at the proposed bridge.
“We did a due diligence for the past one month and finally, with the consent of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, we told the Bangladesh government we are ready to build the bridge,” Samy Vellu told the state news agency in the interview.
He said that several big names in the Malaysian construction industry as well as government-linked companies (GLC) are expected to join the consortium, which will be monitored by the Prime Minister’s Department through his office.
“The contractor has brought in a financier from Dubai. Serious negotiations are currently going on between them. The Malaysian and Bangladeshi governments have no say in identifying and deciding on the financier.
“This bridge will be a very important project for Malaysia as it will prove to the world that this country (Malaysia) has the ability to do anything on earth, especially in the infrastructure segment,” Samy Vellu said.
He added that details of the project time frame will only be decided once the G2G agreement is sealed on February 21.
The World Bank suspended its RM3.8 billion funding for the Padma Bridge on October 10 after Canadian police opened investigations against Canadian firm SNC Lavalin Group Inc — one of five shortlisted consultant supervisors for the project — on corruption charges.
Following the probe, the World Bank shared other allegations concerning corruption in the bidding process for the bridge with the Bangladeshi government.
The World Bank has yet to provide any information on the case of SNC Lavalin which withdrew from the bridge project last week.
The Bangladeshi government has denied all allegations of corruption.
The Padma Bridge, a priority project of the Hasina administration, will connect Bangladesh’s southern region with the rest of the country and is expected to add two per cent to Bangladesh’s GDP.
The Bangladeshi government has signed deals of US$1.2 billion (RM3.7 billion) with the World Bank, US$615 million with Asian Development Bank, US$400 million with the Japan International Co-operation Agency and US$140 million with the Islamic Development Bank.
The bridge, with 3.7km of land-based approach viaducts on both sides of the river, will connect 19 southwestern districts and Dhaka, enhancing their access to markets, improving services and accelerating growth.
The bridge will reduce distances to Dhaka by about 100km and halve travel times from most areas in the southwest. It will also enhance regional trade by linking with the Asian Highway and Trans-Asian railway network systems.
..Kolkata (The Statesman/ANN) - In what reads as nothing short of an SOS, Bangladesh railway minister Suranjit Sengupta has petitioned Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Indian Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi, to "please help free Bangladesh railway projects sanctioned under an Indian Line of Credit of US$1 billion from Indian bureaucratic red tape".
To strengthen the veracity of his concern, a desperate Sengupta has now turned to the Indian media for help, having had no success till now in getting his message across to either Mr Singh or to the Rail Bhavan in Delhi. "I have no other alternative but to use the Indian media to get my message across to Delhi," Sengupta frankly confessed to this correspondent last Saturday.
A senior member of the ruling Awami League presidium and a "seasoned" parliamentary and legal adviser of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Mr Sengupta's main complaint is that little progress has been made since the Manmohan Singh government extended the credit to the Sheikh Hasina government for improving and strengthening Bangladesh's infrastructure, especially its railways. This is the biggest ever credit given by India to any country.
Improved infrastructure would bring in its wake economic spinoffs during the current tenure of Sheikh Hasina's rule and this, in turn, would place her party in an advantageous position electorally in the December 2013 parliamentary poll. Much of the credit was to be utilised for modernising the Bangladesh railway network as over the years this has suffered badly due to poor investment. Thus far, the powerful road lobby had been cornering the bulk of budgetary allocations for the communication ministry, leaving a mere pittance for the railways' sustenance. The irony is that while India has cleared 11 modernisation projects, with another four under conisderation, not a dollar's worth of goods and services have been handed over to Bangladesh so far.
Two "topmost-priority projects" of the Hasina government, which Mr Sengupta wants to push through sooner rather than later, aims at relieving the chaotic congestion of road traffic that clogs two of Bangladesh's arterial highways connecting Dhaka with Joydebpur (a distance of 34 km) in the north and Narayanganj (16 km) in the south-east. Commuters packed like sardines travel in thousands of buses, lorries, autorickshaws, cars and taxis to Dhaka from these two key peripheral towns that jam these highways for the better part of the day. In fact travel to Dhaka from these two ends is now a virtual nightmare. Mr Sengupta's ministry wants to lay third and fourth dual-gauge railway tracks between Dhaka and Joydebpur and convert the Dhaka-Narayanganj single-meter gauge line into broad-gauge double line to provide a solution to the congestion problem. The Indian PSU, IRCON, has been awarded the contract for laying lines and installing signalling system in both the sections.
Politically these are the two "most important and prestigious projects of mass transportation" of the Sheikh Hasina government, according to Sengupta. He plans to run Perambur ICF-manufactured 10 sets of diesel electric multiple units on these tracks which will carry over 1,50,000 passengers to and from Dhaka in these sections daily. As a result Mr Sengupta expects a significant fall in the volume of road traffic, which in turn would free Dhaka's entrypoints. Mr Sengupta said: "These two projects would have such a visible and tangible impact on the Bangladeshi masses that they would view India in a positive rather than in the current negative light because of Teesta and BSF killings. We plan to invite your Prime Minister and Railway minister for the inaugural ceremony if the work gets completed by April next year."
But Sengupta rued that he was unable to impress upon the IRCON authorities and other Indian officials the "political urgency" of these two projects. He wanted them to start work from next month but the Indian officials were saying they could do so only after the required MoUs, protocols and agreements were signed which would take at least three to four more months. "We have held endless rounds of meetings with your officials but we seem to be getting nowhere. We have even tried to sensitise them about our urgency but that has been of little help," said Mr Sengupta. The Bangladesh railway minister said that so much time had been wasted on paper work and meetings that he desperately wanted the highest quarter of the Indian government to intervene to make the credit operational. Supply of items, like 180 tank wagons, railway coaches, diesel locomotives and other rolling stocks, which were to be procured from India, were held up because of formalities.
The interesting angle to all this is that the Chinese government and companies are keeping a close tab on how India is servicing its line of credit with Bangladesh. "Already the Chinese have approached me with the offer that if India fails they are ready to step in. They shall meet all our railway requirements. But I have told them that our railway system is more akin to India's than China's . Hence India is our first preference," Sengupta said.
Bangladesh could earn about US$44 million a year by providing transit to India and its neighbours over the first five years while developing infrastructure for the facility, a transport expert said yesterday.
If the infrastructure was ready in five years, Bangladesh would annually earn half a billion US dollars from the sixth and $1 billion from the 16th year.
Additionally, there would be an investment boost alongside other positive impacts in various sectors, said M Rahmatullah, a member of the government committee on transit, during a dialogue at Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation.
The country would need three to five years to get its transport system in top gear for taking the load of the entire transit traffic, he said.
"For Bangladesh, transit will open up new avenues of opportunities. It will make out a case for India and China investing in deep-sea port in Bangladesh.”
India will also be a major gainer, mainly due to reduction in time and cost of goods transport between its north-eastern states and the rest of the country.
Indian traders might save up to $50 a tonne through getting the transit facility, he said, suggesting the neighbouring country share the savings with Bangladesh.
Depending on routes, Rahmatullah said, the savings in transport costs could be $4-50 a tonne against an estimated 18 million tonnes of yearly transit traffic.
Of the cargoes, 16 million tonnes would possibly move between the north-eastern Indian states to its mainland. The remaining 2 million tonnes would be international cargoes through Bangladesh ports, said Rahmatullah.
Bangladesh would require $7.0 billion over the next decade to develop its transport system, including roads, rails and waterways, for transit, he added.
He suggested the Bangladesh government impose charges for maintenance and operation of infrastructures.
"There have to be some charges. It is allowed under WTO [World Trade Organisation] rules. Bangladesh has the right to charge."
Rahmatullah also favoured charges for environmental costs, congestions and overheads.
To reap the advantage of transit faster, he suggested both Bangladesh and India speed up infrastructure building by removing procedural delays.
As an immediate solution, he recommended transhipment in the meantime of making railway and other infrastructures ready for transit. Another option, he said, could be a joint-venture trucking company by investors from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Bhutan.
The vehicles under the joint venture would have double registration and a special colour for smooth transportation, he said.
Khondaker Azharul Haq, a water expert, said there was a lot of confusion about the gains for Bangladesh. It must be clear how much in terms of benefits the country would get out of allowing the transit facilities.
"It is quite clear that transit will be beneficial for everyone," said Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, a former Indian envoy to Dhaka
Bangladesh Railway inked a Tk 60-crore deal with Indian company Texmaco Rail and Engineering Limited on Sunday to purchase 81 broad-gauge oil tank wagons and three brake vans in 12 months.
Additional Director General of Bangladesh Railway Khalilur Rahman and vice president of Taxmaco Limited P Guha signed the agreement at Railway Bhaban in the city.
This is the fourth contract signed under a project of India’s $1 billion credit to Bangladesh.
Railways Minister Suranjit Sengupta, Secretary of Bangladesh Railway Fazle Elahi, Director General Abu Taher and Rail Adviser of Indian High Commission in Dhaka Chandrima Roy were present during signing of the deal.
It is impossible to explain why the railway, that was perhaps the cheapest and most widely used a mode of transport in Bangladesh along with the riverine system, for both passenger travel and transportation of goods, has been allowed to come to an almost moribund state. This used to be also not only the surest but the safest mode of movement.
Given that this was the largest bulk carrier at one time not so long ago, it is sad to see the sector given the short shrift. And road travel, that at one time well nigh replaced train travel, has neither been able to absorb the pressure of bulk transportation of passenger or good for very obvious reasons. There has been hardly a mile of new tracks laid since Independence; on the contrary, a large number of railway routes have been discontinued and many stations closed due to shortage of manpower.
It is regrettable that while in other countries the railway has been consistently reinvigorated, ours has been set on a path of progressive decay, caused, among other things by bad management, lack of planning and of course resource and manpower crunch. And that would need gargantuan efforts by the ministry and indeed other departments of the government to resuscitate it from its present state.
However, amidst this rather unhappy situation our hopes are somewhat rekindled by the railway minister's remarks that he made at a seminar recently on revamping the railways, that various projects amounting to 24,000 crore taka is in hand to regain the lost glory of the system.
While we commend the minister for his zeal and earnestness, we feel that the recovery of the railways will have to be done in a long term, sustained manner, and it should start immediately. The fact that there is less than two years left of the present regime should not deter the government from undertaking long-term schemes. We believe the railways can be placed on a firmer footing within the time at the disposal of the government.
However, notwithstanding the investment of large sums of money on the infrastructure, the underlying issue remains that of the quality of service including punctuality, which will go a long way in regaining the old glory of the railways.
The World Bank and the Government of Bangladesh have concluded negotiations on a US$1.2 billion concessional credit agreement for the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project, the largest infrastructure project currently under construction in the country.
Construction has already started on the 6 km-long bridge and, through retroactive financing, the Government is taking on up to US$ 60 million in preparatory work. This will now be reimbursed from the World Bank financing.
The retroactive financing is being used for environmental and social studies and actions to ensure families in the construction zone have land, homes, livelihoods and community assets for improved welfare.
Construction includes of a two-level steel truss bridge over6 km-long, with a four lane highway to accommodate road vehicles on top, and a lower deck with a single track railway to be added in future. Twelve kilometers of approach roads, along with toll plazas and service areas will also be constructed, while dredging and river bank protection will be carried out.
To make construction of this mega-project possible, the World Bank has increased its financial commitment more than threefold over the past year, making this the World Bank's largest financing for a project in Bangladesh ever.
The bridge is expected to have a profound effect on the 30 million-plus people living in the south west region, and accelerate economic growth in the country as a whole, according to Arastoo Khan, additional secretary, economic relations division, who led the Government negotiating team.
"Despite substantial improvement of connectivity, the south west region remains isolated in the absence of the Padma Bridge where the only means of transportation is ferry" said Mr Khan. "The Padma Bridge would connect the south west region to the rest of the country and help in reducing regional disparities."
As with other credits from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank's concessionary arm, the financing for the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project will have a 40 year maturity, including a 10-year grace period, with a service charge of 0.75%.
The project will be submitted to the World Bank's Board in late January, for discussion and final approval on February 24, 2011.
The Bangladesh Bridge Authority is the executing agency for the project, which is due for completion in December 2015.
Scalping of train tickets at Chittagong Railway Station is not being curbed despite the railway authorities’ preventive measures.The authorities reduced the lead time for buying advance tickets from 10 days to 3 days since February 17 in an attempt to make saleable tickets available at the counters right before departure of trains, and also to curb scalping. The measure is applicable to all routes across the country. But it failed to produce any positive result in Chittagong.
The long queues at the ticket counters have been getting longer, and tickets for certain trains have been vanishing within hours of opening the counters.Railway sources and sufferers said ticket scalpers continue to buy off a good portion of the tickets leading to an artificial crisis.Omar Faruk, who was trying on February 20 to get tickets for February 23, said, “I waited for more than two hours in the queue, but failed to get tickets when I reached the counter.
“Like Faruk, other travellers also complained that they were in long queues for several hours, but the tickets were sold out before they reached the counter. This is an everyday affair, they said.Abu Bakar Siddique who failed to buy a ticket from the counter said, “A man offered me a ticket for Dhaka bound train Subarna Express on the station premises.”Another passenger, Qazi Shamim Hasan, who on February 25 could not get any ticket from the counter, said, “But I found two men trying to sell tickets at a high rate in front of the tea stalls at the station gate.”He ultimately bought a Tk 150 ticket for Dhaka for Tk 350 from a scalper.
Chittagong Railway Station Manager AA Samsur Rahman however claimed that since the introduction of the new rule, ticket scalping stopped. The tickets are running out quick because of a rush of buyers, he said.But his statement was proven wrong when on March 23 angry ticket seekers besieged him in his office room for more than an hour till Rapid Action Battalion arrived at the scene and calmed the situation.The demonstrators said ticket sale began at 9:00am and around 9:20am the booking clerk announced that all advanced tickets for air-conditioned cars of Dhaka bound Turna smeg and Mahangar Godhuli for March 26 were sold out.On March 22 Government Railway Police (GRP) arrested a ticket scalper red-handed from Chittagong Railway Station. GRP arrested another black marketer on March 6, and Bangladesh Railway (BR) East Zone authority suspended three Chittagong Railway Station officials on March 3 in connection with ticket scalping.High officials of BR at a media conference on March 26 in Chittagong said they blacklisted around 6,500 mobile phone numbers of suspected ticket scalpers.
General Manager of BR East Zone Yusuf Ali Mridha said they, in an investigation, found that certain mobile phone users have been buying a lot of tickets in advance and selling those on the black market at much higher prices. The rail authorities also found that black marketers are taking advantage of the e-ticketing system through which a person can remotely buy advance return tickets using BR’s internal wide area electronic communication network.
The scalpers have also been buying a large quota of such e-tickets, said BR officials adding that as a preventive measure they have restricted e-ticket booking hours.Under the restriction, e-ticket purchase will remain suspended between 9:00am and 11:00am daily. Mohammed Shahjahan, additional director general (operation) of BR, said, “In addition to addressing the ticket problems, Bangladesh Railway will increase the number of cars in all four daily Dhaka-Chittagong trains within a short period time.
“Mahbubur Rahman Khan, station master of Chittagong Railway station, said travellers who are not used to the new ticket selling system suffer the most.”I think the new system will bring positive result within a short time, and end the dominance of black marketers,” he added.
Ticket counters at the station are being closely monitored now to check ticket scalping, said the authorities.Eight inter-city trains leave Chittagong Railway Station to different routes across the country everyday including Chitta gong-Dhaka, Chittagong-Sylhet, Chittagong-Chandpur, and Chittagong-Noakhali routes. Courtesy - TDS.
China CNR Corp. stocks climb on Bangladesh order
English.news.cn 2012-04-05 13:14:02
BEIJING, April 5 (Xinhua) -- Shares of China CNR Corp., the country's second-largest train maker, gained after media reported that Bangladesh will purchase key high-speed rail technologies from the company's subsidiary.
As of 11 a.m., the company's stocks had climbed 0.97 percent to 4.15 yuan (0.66 U.S. dollars) per share on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
China CNR Corp.'s Dalian Electric Traction Research and Development Center will export traction inverters and network control systems to Bangladesh, according to the reports. This will be the first time for China to export its own traction and network control systems, which are key technologies of such trains, according to a Beijing Times article.
The contract contains 20 sets of high-speed rail network control systems, 40 sets of traction inverters and 40 sets of auxiliary inverters, the newspaper said without mentioning how much the contract is worth.
China CNR is scheduled to release its financial report on April 28. It said in January that it expected to see its net profit surge over 50 percent in 2011 from a year earlier, on China's booming railway and metro construction.
The profit estimate came despite the company's recall of a raft of trains after a deadly accident last summer.
On July 23 of 2011, a high-speed train slammed into a stalled train near the city of Wenzhou in the eastern province of Zhejiang, leaving 40 dead and 172 injured.
The company recalled 54 trains it supplied for the high-speed rail between Beijing and Shanghai three weeks later. All the trains resumed service in December after modifications and repeated tests, according to the Ministry of Railways.
DHAKA, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Malaysia signed a deal with Bangladesh on Tuesday to undertake Bangladesh's Padma bridge project worth 2.9 billion U.S. dollars.
Bangladeshi Communications Minister Obaidul Quader and Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, special envoy of Malaysian prime minister, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia, witnessed the signing ceremony, said the statement issued by Bangladesh High Commssion (embassy) in Kuala Lumpur.
After the signing ceremony, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Mohd Najib Tun Razak have spoken over telephone.
Terming the event as historic and landmark development, both the prime ministers renewed their commitment to working more closely for further strengthening bilateral cooperation between Bangladesh and Malaysia.
Malaysia in January this year made its offer to Bangladesh after the bridge project was stalled last year over graft allegation raised by the World Bank, the coordinating financier of the project.
The project ran into trouble after the Washington-based lender suspended its 1.2-billion U.S. dollar loan to the Bangladeshi government in October last year over the alleged graft.
Asian Development Bank had pledged 610 million U.S. dollars, Japan International Cooperation Agency 400 million U.S. dollars and Islamic Development Bank 140 million U.S. dollars as loan for the bridge project.
The 10 km-long bridge will be built over Padma River, one of the three biggest rivers in Bangladesh. About 6.15 km of the bridge will be built over the river while the remaining part on both banks of the river.
Apart from connecting nearly 30 million people in Bangladesh's southwest region to the rest of the country, the bridge will enhance regional trade.
According to the Asian Development Bank, the physical work will include the construction of a two-level steel truss bridge, with a four-lane highway to accommodate road vehicles on top, and a lower deck with a single track railway to be added in future.
It said 12 km of approach roads, along with toll plazas and service areas will also be built, while dredging and river bank protection will be carried out.
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Friday voiced grave concern over the naked transactions of illegal money by officials of Railways Ministry and called upon Railways Minster Suranjit Sengupta to step down immediately, reports UNB.
"We call upon the railways minister to resign immediately by taking the responsibility-at least on moral ground-and create a space for an absolutely independent investigation free from any influence so that punitive measures can be taken without fear or favour to anyone," said a TIB statement.
The corruption watchdog body also demanded harshest possible punishments of those who are guilty.
It said the event is an ominous indicator of impending capture of the state by corruption, and comes as a challenge for the government to demonstrate that it has the capacity to prevent such capture.
"The midnight episode that involved sharing of tens of thousands of taka collected through illegal transactions, including extortion, for appointment to public offices under the ministry clearly indicates patronage of corruption by high political and public office," TIB executive director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said.
"More disturbing is the sheer lack of appropriate action amounting to connivance -- whether under influence or not -- by the Border Guard Bangladesh, as well as inaction of the police authority," he said.
Iftekharuzzaman went on: "We're also disturbed by the lack of information of wherabouts of the driver of the vehicle, the key witness to the event, and demand that the government and its relevant agencies take all possible measures immediately to find the witness and ensure his security."
Describing the event as a tip of the iceberg, he said the government that came to power with a strong commitment to control corruption, including specific commitment against unearned income, extortion and bribery, has a challenge now to demonstrate that it has the political will and capacity to restore the trust of people by preventing capture of the state by the ominously powerful corruptelements within the institutions of politics, administration and law enforcement.
"With less than two years before the next national election, we also urge upon the prime minister to take a hard look at the government's delivery against their electoral pledges to fight corruption and demonstrate that the government is sensitive to the expectations of the people who voted them to power," Dr Zaman said.
Don't forget to LIKE us on Facebook at: Railpage Facebook Feed