The Western Zone of Bangladesh Railway is getting 40 new locomotives aimed at improving the quality of passenger services by injecting dynamism into rail services.
Chief mechanical engineer of the Kudrat-E-Khuda zone said that the engines will be purchased from the United States. Sixteen of them have already reached the country in two batches and the remaining 24 will be brought in three phases.
There are air conditioning facilities for loco-masters in modern locomotives in addition to front and rear cameras that will help them drive the train comfortably and safely.
“We have already received four engines and testing of them on different routes is underway at the Ishwardi junction,” he said, adding that normal operation will begin as soon as possible after the successful completion of the trial operation.
Only Broad Gauge (BG) locomotives operate in the area and there are 92 engines with a lifespan of 20 years. Of these, 43 have already expired.
Engineer Khuda said that the running cost of obsolete engines is higher than the good ones. Also, spare parts for older engines are not available in local markets.
To solve the existing problems, the new engines are procured at a cost of Tk 1,123 crore under the Bangladesh Railway Rolling Stock Operation Project. Each of the engines costs Tk 28.39 crore.
Taking into account the general situation, the railway authorities signed an agreement with the American company “Progress Rail Locomotive Incorporation” for the purchase of 40 new BG engines in January 2019.
The engines are purchased with the joint financial collaboration of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Bangladesh.
Asim Kumar Talukder, Area General Manager, said each of the diesel-electric motors packs 3,250 BHP with 18.8 tons of excel load and are capable of commercial operating speed at 130 kilometers per hour.
He said they were hopeful of adding all 32 engines to the WZ railroad by June this year.
Asim Talukder said the WZ will enter a new era of providing quality passenger services with the addition of the new engines.
He said WZ, covering Rajshahi, Rangpur and Khulna divisions, operated 159 trains including 50 intercity and some inter-country on different routes including the capital of Dhaka and Kolkata in India at present.
46 local or shuttle trains and sixty-three commuter or postal trains are also operated on various routes popular with passengers, he added.
He said the number of intercity train passengers on various routes has increased significantly over the past two years.
Considering the benefit of passengers in general, he said that 31 major stations have been integrated into the modern computerized seat reservation and ticketing system. Some of them, including Rajshahi, have started selling tickets and reserving seats through online systems.