Make railways safer

21 December, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Twelve more lives have sadly been added to the long list of the road and railway accident fatality. Though the railway is considered the safest transportation mode around the world, it is not safe in Bangladesh as accidents frequently occur for multiple reasons, killing a number of people each year. Lack of proper maintenance and negligence of the authorities are the reasons why accidents take place most of the time. In the recent tragic Joypurhat train-bus collision, the negligence of the level-crossing gateman is allegedly the prime cause, while reckless bus driving is also responsible.

Bangladesh is one of the top-ranked countries that face train accidents regularly. Bangladesh observes a very high trend of train accidents per million train kilometres, which is considered a safety index globally. While Bangladesh Railway had 5.21 accidents in each million train kilometres in 2017-2018, it was only 0.06 in India, despite having similar economic and geographic conditions. Unmanned level-crossings here and there, poor condition of tracks, the tendency of violating road traffic rules at level crossings by road users and signal passed at danger by loco masters have been contributing train accidents for years.

It is very unfortunate that Bangladesh Railway has been using 19th-century signalling and operation technology, lagging far behind the advanced technology used worldwide. Therefore, the authorities concerned should take necessary steps to up-grade railway operations with advanced technology. Using GPS-based vehicle tracking systems to control train movements and introducing anti-collision devices or automatic train stop devices are some of the means that can decrease train fatality.

For years the suffering of passengers has been intolerable because of the anarchism of the private transport sector. Under such circumstances, the railway is the only hope for people as a safe and comfortable transportation mode. But railway journey is neither safe in the country. However, a good railway service would help people feel relieved; it will help the government control the audacity of private transport sector leaders at the same time. Therefore, there is no alternative to making railway is a safe and people-friendly mode of transportation.