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Rly faces huge loss due to blockade

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A Correspondent

With the countrywide non-stop transport blockade enforced by the BNP-led 20-party alliance continuing, Bangladesh Railway (BR) has been counting a huge loss of Tk 30-40 lakh a day, according to officials.

Train services across the country have severely been affected due to the nonstop blockade as all the trains are running behind their respective schedules to avoid acts of sabotage, causing immense sufferings to passengers.

According to the officials, Railway’s losses will go up further if the political turmoil continues.

“The decrease in the number of passengers has been the main reason behind the loss… at least 25 percent passengers are refunding their tickets every day to the delays in train schedules amid the blockade,” BR director general Amzad Hossain said.

Amzad said fewer numbers of oil-tankers and other freight trains are seen running on Dhaka-Chittagong to avoid risks.

Chief commercial officer (East) of Bangladesh railway Belal Uddin said the Railway earns about Tk 1.10 crore per day from east zone in normal situation. “But, the income has marked a fall by 20 percent in the last few days,” he added.

Echoing the same concern, chief commercial officer (West) of BR Habibur Rahman said they need a month to estimate the losses.

Railways Secretary Md Munsur Ali Sikder said though train journeys are safe, a sense of insecurity is prevailing among passengers due to the nonstop blockade, bringing down the number of train travelers. “As a result, the BR is facing losses,” he added.

He said the government, meanwhile, has deployed 8,328 Ansar and Village Defence Party (VDP) members -- eight members in every kilometer of the rail track across the country -- on January 12 to ensure safe train journeys.

Four Ansar members -- two in the first compartment and two in the last compartment along with firearms -- have also been deployed in each train, Munsur Ali said.

“Train schedules have been reshuffled as we are carefully handling the schedules. Trains are the national assets. The government’s duty is to save the trains, and our duty is to give proper service to the passengers,” the secretary said.

Munsur Ali hoped that the train schedules will become normal soon as all necessary measures have been taken in this regard.

Miscreants across the country are conducting subversive activities to foil the regular train services amid the blockade.

On January 8, miscreants removed fishplates from rail tracks in Moulvibazar and Joypurhat that led to the collapse of the train schedule in that region.

On that day, six compartments and the engine of Chittagong-bound ‘Udayan Express’ from Sylhet veered off the tracks near Tilagaon Railway Station in Kulaura after pickets removed the fishplates from 20-30 feet stretch of the tracks.

Some of the bogies overturned after skidding off the tracks, leaving at least 50 passengers injured.