Ten locomotives imported from South Korea on 31 August last year to alleviate the locomotive crisis in the Eastern Railway could not be added to the railway fleet yet due to lack of instruction from the higher authorities concerned.
The locomotives were due to be added to the fleet in early December 2020 after the trial run was completed in November.
On Saturday, Railway Chittagong Divisional Manager Tareq Mohammad SamsTushar said, "We have not yet received instructions on when the 10 new locomotives will be added to the fleet."
Jahangir Hossain, general manager (GM) of Eastern Railway echoed Tareq's statement.
However, Nur Ahmed Hossain, project director of the project for procurement of locomotives, relief cranes and locomotive simulators for the Bangladesh Railway, said there was a trial run of the new locomotives on the railway line but there were some defects in the generator of the engine and those cannot be added to the railway fleet without resolving these issues.
Nazrul Islam, chief power controller at Eastern Railway, told The Business Standard the first trial run of 10 locomotives began on 30 September and completed on 17 November on passenger and freight trains from Chattogram to Laksam and Dhaka routes. The engines are currently in the Pahartali workshop.
The lifespan of most of the locomotives running on the Eastern Railway has expired and 36 engines have completely lost their efficiency. Although 10 new locomotives initially created hope in Eastern Railway officials to overcome the crisis, they are now frustrated.
Nazrul Islam, the chief power controller of the Eastern Railway, said 36 engines are completely out of order and lifespan of 108 engines has expired. Around 113 locomotives are required to operate trains in the Eastern Area
whereas only 100 engines are operative. With the addition of ten new engines, the crisis could have been alleviated.
According to Eastern Railway sources, 10 locomotives with a speed capacity of 100 kmph were purchased at Tk400 crore with the funding of the Asian Development Bank to run trains on metre gauge lines.
These engines manufactured by Hyundai Rotem Company of Korea came to Chittagong Port from Korea on 31 August and arrived at Pahartali Workshop on 2 September. On 1 November last year, Sardar Shahadat Ali, the then general manager of Eastern Railway, told The Business Standard it would be possible to add 10 imported locomotives to the railway fleet within a month.
According to Bangladesh Railway sources, the warranty period is running out due to stalling of the locomotives. The railway department is facing losses too. Hyundai offers a five-year warranty for the engines. This includes a three-year full engine warranty and the next two years a warranty on all types of parts. If the locomotives are put on hold after the warranty period is over, the railways will face huge losses.
According to Eastern Railway Working Time Table-52, Eastern Railway operates 75 intercity, mail and express, Demu, local and mixed trains. Of these, 30 are in Chattogram division and 45 in Dhaka division. Besides, the number of coaches in the train in the eastern part is 897. Of these, 343 are in Chattogram division and 554 in Dhaka division.