At least 113 people – including 26 women and 11 children – have been killed, and 15 others injured, in 105 different railway accidents in the past six months.
The numbers surfaced in a report by two non-governmental organisations – Green Club of Bangladesh (GCB) and the National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways (NCPSRR) – on fatal accidents that took place in different parts of the country from January 1 to June 30 this year.
GCB and NCPSRR prepared the report based on news published in 24 national dailies, 10 regional newspapers and nine online news portals and news agencies, said a press release issued today.
The report said 29 people, including four women and five children, were killed in 26 accidents in January. The number of people killed and injured in 42 accidents in February was 44 and seven, respectively – including 14 women and two children.
Eleven people, including six women and two children, were killed and eight injured in 18 accidents in March.
Due to Covid-19, passenger trains were closed in April and May, but there were four accidents on freight trains during May where four people, including one woman, were killed.
The number of accidents in June was 15. A total of 18 people were killed, including a woman and two children.
Haji Md Shahid Mia, president of the NCPSRR, said their observations have identified five reasons behind the accidents and deaths.
These are: crossing railways while using mobile phones, a lack of awareness by pedestrians in the areas adjacent to the railways, negligence by the employees of railway crossings (at junctions of roads and railways), and the non-repair of railways in many places – including for long distance trains.
GCB general secretary Ashish Kumar Dey said the results of accidents and casualties were basically from four months since passenger trains were closed from March 26 to May 31 due to lockdowns across the country.
He added that in the first six months of this year, even though there were no significant deaths due to collisions between the trains, or derailments, isolated accidents on the railways were prominent throughout the year.
He also said that at least 13 rail bridges with "dead stop" signs were being used over 179 kilometres on Sylhet-Akhaura route – leaving thousands of passengers vulnerable to accidents.
Eight of these dead stops were on an 18 kilometre stretch from Sylhet to Mogla Bazar and five in a 164 kilometre area from Mogla Bazar to Akhaura Bridge.
The authorities concerned put up dead stop signs at rail bridges last year – instructing trains to stop before crossing the bridges and then run at a speed of only five kilometres per hour, he added.