Trains will continue with half passenger load, no fare increase

Passenger trains will continue to run with half the seats vacant, said railways minister Nurul Islam Sujon. He said they did not have plan of increasing train fares either.

The railways minister was speaking to newsmen at the agreement signing ceremony for luggage van procurement on Monday at the Rail Bhaban in the capital.

Railway minister Nurul Islam said, “It is still not certain whether coronavirus transmission will go up or down. That is why even though it has been decided that buses will carry full passenger load at previous fares, we have not taken any such decision.”

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He said that no decision had been taken as yet about increasing train fare, but the matter was being looked into for the future.

A committee had been formed one and a half years ago to look into whether the fare could be increased with the improvement in people’s spending capacity.

The committee recently submitted its report but that did not mean that the fares were going to be hiked.

He refuted media reports on the question of train fares being increased. The trains should carry half the number of passengers than capacity, he quoted prime minister Sheikh Hasina as saying.

The revenue could be increased by carrying goods, Nurul Islam said.

Towards the end of March all passenger trains were halted due to the outbreak of coronavirus. From 31 May train service resumed, albeit in a restrict manner.

Since then trains have been running with half the passenger load. The number of trains has been gradually increasing. From 5 September 134 trains will run. All intercity trains will run from that day.

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No announcement has been made about when mail, local and commuter trains will commence service. A total of 355 trains, passenger and goods, normally operate.

Brake-van procurement deal

Bangladesh railway signed a deal on Monday with China National Technical Import and Export Corporation-Railtecho-GNC JV for the purchase of 75 meter-gage and 50 broad-gage luggage vans. The contract was signed by project director Md Mizanur Rahman on behalf of Bangladesh and Yang Bing on behalf of the suppliers.

The cost of the luggage vans is estimated to be around Tk 3.58 billion (Tk 358 crore 39 lakh). These would be delivered within the next 20 months.

The railway minister said that the government had taken an extensive initiative to improve passenger service, construct and repair railroads as well as for goods transport. The procurement of luggage vans with Asian Development Bank (ADB) funding was part of the initiative.

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He said, mangoes were transported from Rajshahi by train during the pandemic. Special train service was arranged to transport vegetables from the various districts. Sacrificial animals were also carried by train during Eid-ul-Azha.

He added that the luggage vans were being purchased for direct transport of agricultural produce to the consumers in the future. This would ensure fair prices for the farmers.

The railway authorities have said that under this contract, luggage vans with stainless steel bodies, air-conditioned high speed bogeys and automatic air brake system would be procured.

Food and other perishable items could be transported in such vans. The cost of the luggage vans are estimated to be around Tk 3.58 billion (Tk 358 crore 39 lakh). These would be delivered within the next 20 months.