Bangladesh’s Eastern Railway Zone is accelerating in terms of freight and passenger services, with new locomotives joining its fleet.
In two phases in August and October, 20 new locomotives have joined the fleet and 10 more will join next month.
With the addition of 30 locomotives, officials believe that passenger and freight transport in the Eastern Zone will increase. Rail authorities said they were adding more locomotives to the eastern area to alleviate the crisis.
The country’s rail services are divided into two zones – east and west. The East Zone, which has two hubs – Dhaka and Chattogram – is headquartered at the CRB (Central Railway Building) in the port city.
Md Borhan Uddin, Chief Mechanical Engineer East Zone, told The Business Standard: “After testing imported 10-meter track locomotives in 2020, we received them on October 4 for use.”
Other 10-meter track locomotives, which arrived at Chattogram Port from South Korea on June 9 this year, were handed over to the mechanical department on August 10, he added.
As the speed limit of newly imported locomotives is 100 km / h, the speed of the railways will increase and the quality of passenger services will also increase, officials in the East Zone said.
“Twenty locomotives were purchased from Hyundai Rotem of South Korea in two phases – Tk297 crore in one project and Tk330 crore in another,” Mohammad Hasan Mansoor, project manager of the purchase, told TBS.
“Ten more locomotives have been purchased from the same company. Hopefully the East Zone can add them to its fleet in November after a test drive.”
According to sources, the number of locomotives in the East Zone is 153, including 20 new ones.
An engine has a lifespan of 20 years. Of the 133 previous engines in the East zone, only 39 are for life. The remaining 94 engines have expired. Locomotives expired for life include locomotives that are 68 years old. In addition, there are locomotives from 1961, 1978, 1979 and 1982 in this area.
Older engines are used more in freight trains than in passenger trains. This is why trains cannot go faster than 35 kilometers per hour. Due to their operation with outdated locomotives, freight trains often encounter various accidents such as fires and derailments.
It takes 12 hours for a container train from Chattogram Goods Port Yard to reach Kamalapur ICD (Inland Container Depot) in Dhaka. But freight trains with new locomotives can travel at a speed of 60 km / h.
Abdul Malek, chief captain of the Railway Chattogram Goods Port Yard, said there was an average demand for nine trains to carry oil, stone and other goods on various routes across the country.
“Due to a locomotive crisis, we can now only operate five trains. Two to three locomotives are allocated from the newly added locomotives. At least four more locomotives must be allocated to operate the freight trains as demanded.” , he added. .
According to sources in the East Zone, the life of one or more locomotives comes to an end every year. Locomotives over 50 years old often need to be repaired. So even though they are in the fleet, these locomotives are not always in service.
Zahangir Hossain, chief executive for the East Zone, told TBS that adding 30 new locomotives would ease the crisis.
“The railway authorities are importing more locomotives to resolve this crisis. Hopefully the engine crisis will be gradually eliminated,” he added.