Bhairab train accident: What explanations will the railway authorities provide

Prothom Alo illustration

Railway is considered a comparatively safe and affordable means of transportation in all countries across the world. But the way accidents are frequently taking place in Bangladesh, this cannot be called safe any more. Many train accidents in Bangladesh are attributed to derailments or the improper management of rail crossings. While the number of casualties in these incidents is often relatively small, there are more severe cases where accidents occur due to a loco master disregarding signals and resulting in head-on collisions between two trains. These situations can pose serious safety risks. 

The train accident that occurred at the west end of Bhairab railway station on Monday was also caused by a freight train not obeying the signal. Consequently, the goods train collided with three carriages of the Egaroshindur train. This collision led to two carriages of the passenger train overturning, resulting in the tragic loss of 18 lives and injuries to over 100 people. Rail communications on the Dhaka-Chattogram, Dhaka-Sylhet, and Dhaka-Kishoreganj routes remained suspended for about seven and a half hours. 

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Nazmul Islam, the manager of the east zone, said the loco master operated the train defying the signal.
According to the non-government organisation Road Safety Foundation, 1345 people have been killed in train accidents since 2018 and 1302 people have been injured. A total of 1,116 accidents took place during the period.

According to railway officials and witnesses, the Egaroshindur train was departing from Bhairab railway station bound for Dhaka. The freight train was heading towards the Bhairab station. The Egaroshindur train was in the process of switching from one rail line to another at the time of the accident. 

The Egaroshindur train had successfully crossed the point of changing lines, passing 11 carriages. However, the freight train approaching from the opposite direction collided with three carriages of the Egaroshindur train. Railway officials stated that the accident occurred outside the Bhairab station, where multiple rail lines are interconnected. Trains transition from one line to another in this area which could lead to head-on collision between the two trains causing more significant disaster. Do the authorities consider the death of 18 people a minor disaster? 

Like in the past, the railway authorities formed multiple investigation committees. The loco master of the freight train and the assistant loco master have been suspended. Maybe the investigation committee will submit the reports in time. However, there is no guarantee that those responsible for the accident will be held accountable. Similar to other government organisations, Bangladesh Railway appears to be operating arbitrarily. The irresponsibility of the officials and employees involved is inexcusable. 

Bangladesh Railway ensures high-quality training for its loco masters. However, what could be the reasons for disregarding signals? We have previously heard about reckless driving by bus drivers, and this time, a loco master committed a similar offense. The loco master who neglected the signal and caused the passengers' deaths must be held accountable. 

Who will assume responsibility for the loss of 18 lives and damage to assets? According to the law, the railway authorities may offer some compensation for the losses. However, there is no compensation for the loss of human lives. What response will the railway authorities provide to those who have lost their loved ones?