Bangladesh Railway launched the DEMU train service to ensure quick and comfortable journey for commuters in short distances but these trains have now become a burden on the railway division.
According to some railway officials, DEMU train earned Tk 19.40 crore in the last five years while the expenditure was Tk 25 crore.
DEMU trains were brought from China only five years ago and the railway engineers are now struggling hard to keep them running.
Bangladesh Railway Engineering Department sources said DEMU trains are mostly used in winter country and they are capable of carrying passengers at short distances. Although DEMU train is popular in foreign countries for fast and light travel, it is not suitable for our country, said some railway officials.
Besides, the DEMU trains imported to Bangladesh are weak in structure and very light. As a result, the train engine is often out of order while running.
A senior railway official said 11 sets of DEMU trains have been stuck for a long time due to lack of specialised workshops and shortage of spare parts.
There has been widespread debate over the introduction of the DEMU train service in the country. Many news items have been published in the media about the price of DEMU train and railway’s inexperience in its maintenance. But the railway division has ignored all the discussions and criticisms.
Md Mizanur Rahman, chief mechanical engineer (east zone), told the daily sun, “Now we’re doing some light repairs to these DEMU trains. But we’re unable to do heavy repairs in our existing workshop.”
“Separate workshop is needed for the heavy repairs to these DEMU trains. We’ve planned to set up a separate workshop for this,” he added.
According to railway sources, a total 18 sets of DEMU trains run in the east zone of the railway and nine sets of DEMU trains have been out of order for a long time. Four sets have been kept in Pahartali locomotive shed and the other four sets in Dhaka locomotive shed.
A set of DEMU train is now lying in Laksam locomotive shed due to accident in Rasulpur area of Comilla Sadar on January 13. Besides, in the west zone, two sets of DEMU trains are lying out of order in Parbatipur locomotive shed.
A railway official said most of the DEMU trains are out of order due to accidents.
Amjad Hossain, director general of Bangladesh Railway, said in fact DEMU train was bought for a short distance journey but due to some wrong policies such a situation has been created.
He said there is no workshop (repair shop) in the country for maintenance of DEMU train. There is a plan to make a workshop in Narayanganj for the maintenance of DEMU train.
A total 20 sets of DEMU trains were purchased from China just five years ago at the cost of Tk 654 crore.
DEMU train can attain speed up to 80 kmph as they have engines at both ends. Each DEMU train can carry 300 passengers - 149 seating and 151 standing passengers- at a time.