India to grant BR 10 reconditioned locomotives to help deal with shortage
About 72% of the locomotives of Bangladesh Railway (BR) have become outdated as they have only been able to procure 10 engines since 2010.
Although the government has prioritized railway services and the budget is adequate, policymakers let down BR in failing to procure a single locomotive after the 2014-15 fiscal year, according to railway sources.
In order to help with the shortage in locomotives, India is providing BR with 10 reconditioned broad-gauge locomotives as a token of friendship, said Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujan.
The locomotives are to be received on Monday, he added.
“It [the grant from India] will help improve interim railway operations while we add new locomotives,” the railway minister told Dhaka Tribune.
BR has been in the process of acquiring 110 locomotives from South Korea and the US for six years.
On Sunday, BR said they would acquire 10 broad-gauge locomotives from the US in the beginning of August. The locomotives will be assembled in South Korea.
“We contracted to buy 20 locomotives from General Electric of the US. Of those, we will get 10 locomotives within a couple of weeks,” said Mohammad Hasan Mansur, former project director of the locomotive, relief crane, and locomotive stimulator procurement project.
“We will get the other 10 locomotives within a very short time,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
BR has also signed two deals with the Korean Hyundai Rotem Company for a total of 90 locomotives. However, these locomotives cannot be delivered before 2022.
Of the 90 locomotives, 70 are part of a Tk674.09crore deal and the remaining 20 are part of a Tk297.63 crore deal.
According to the Railways Ministry, BR currently has 178 meter-gauge locomotives, of which 139 have passed their 20-year economic life. Out of 90 broad-gauge locomotives of BR, 55 are outdated.
Outdated locomotives run at an average speed below 60kmph, slowing down railway services.
The BR had 486 locomotives in the 1969-70 fiscal year, but the number has now come down to 268.
Regarding the grant from India, Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujan said: “India wanted to give us both broad-gauge and meter-gauge locomotives, but as they have already shifted to the broad-gauge system, the meter-gauge engines are more than 20 years old. Those [meter-gauge locomotives] will not be helpful for us, so we are getting 10-broad gauge locomotives which were manufactured between 2013 to 2018. These engines can be used with minimum maintenance.”
According to BR, the handover ceremony will be conducted by video conference on Monday. Attending dignitaries include the railway ministers, foreign ministers, and high commissioners of both the countries.
The physical location of the handover will be Gede Station of Eastern Railway in West Bengal’s Nadia district, and the receiving station of Darshana on the Bangladesh side.