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BR struggles to overhaul ageing fleet of coaches

Rehabilitation project for eastern zone

Munima Sultana | August 19, 2019 00:00:00

The Bangladesh Railway (BR) has taken up a rehabilitation project for 100 metre-gauge train coaches in its second phase, even as 388 coaches or 42 per cent of total coaches running in its eastern zone are over-aged, sources said.

All these over-aged coaches are needed to be overhauled for safe and comfortable journey of passengers, they said.

The tenure of the rehabilitation project is three fiscal years -- from 2019-20 to 2021-22.

In the first phase of the three-year rehabilitation project, the Bangladesh Railway overhauled only 100 coaches. But it admitted that still 388 passenger coaches, out of a total of 930, are over-aged.

Of the 930 coaches, 248 coaches are aged between 21 and 30 years while 66 coaches are over 31 years of age. Some 130 coaches are under 10 years and 95 coaches are between the age of 11 and 20, according to official data.

"Backlog of overhauling work in the Eastern Zone of Bangladesh Railway is increasing due to lack of manpower, machinery and plants as well as limited budget," said an official.

As per maintenance schedule, a general overhauling of coaches is required in every 12 years, but it could not be possible under revenue budget, he added.

According to official records, the BR has been carrying out general overhauling of overdue coaches since 1992.

The Bangladesh Railway Eastern Zone has a total of 930 coaches, 425 of which are used for mail and express trains and 505 for inter-city trains.

The BR Eastern Zone carries out the overhauling work at its Pahartoli workshop where 1,033 people have been working as against 2,126 approved manpower, officials said.

With the existing workforce at Pahartoli workshop, the BR Eastern Zone would not be able to overhaul more than 35 coaches in a year.

After the first phase of rehabilitation project which was completed this year, the BR has set a new target to rehabilitate 100 more coaches in the next three years until 2021-22.

Thirty-five coaches would be overhauled in each of the first two fiscal years. In 2021-22, the remaining 30 coaches will be rehabilitated.

The project involves Tk 741 million, the officials said.

With the overhaul work done in the last three years, BR has seen its earnings go up, they added.

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