- Estimated cost of 4 bulletproof saloon coaches Tk54 crore
- The presidential saloon coaches will have:
- Room to take rest
- Conference room
- Dining room
- Modern bathroom
- No head of the state has traveled by train in the last 40 years
- Planning Commission has sought clear rationale for purchasing the coaches
- Project proposal will be placed before the Ecnec once Bangladesh Railway presents the rationale
Even though no president of Bangladesh has travelled by train in the past 40 years, the Bangladesh Railway has taken an initiative to purchase a set of four presidential saloon carriages.
Consequently, at the Project Evaluation Committee (PEC) meeting held in March this year, the Planning Commission asked the railways authorities to give a clear rationale for purchasing the presidential saloon coaches considering the example of previous years.
Mamun-al-Rashid, member of the Planning Commission's Physical Infrastructure Division, told The Business Standard that the Bangladesh Railway could not say in the project proposal or at the PEC meeting when the last time a head of the state travelled by train here.
According to the Bangladesh Railway, earlier there was a presidential saloon coach, which is presently kept at the Saidpur Railway Workshop.
The saloon coach was brought to India during the British rule. After the partition of India in 1947, the British government gave the coach as a gift to the East Pakistan Railway. In 1981, it lost its mobility.
Sources in the Bangladesh Railway said the presidential saloon coaches they plan to buy would be made with the highest safety equipment. Each of the coaches will have a room to take rest, a conference room, a dining room, a modern bathroom and a small library.
The cost of the four bulletproof saloon coaches has been estimated at around Tk54 crore – Tk13.48 crore each.
However, the Planning Commission said the project has been taken up without a feasibility study. Due to this, the price of 200 coaches, including the presidential saloon coaches, was not estimated properly.
So, the commission asked the Bangladesh Railway to present the rationale of the cost of the presidential saloon coaches.
The Bangladesh Railway has proposed procuring the presidential saloon coaches under a project titled "Procurement of 200 Broad Gauge Passenger Carriages for Bangladesh Railway". The Project Evaluation Committee has already met twice on the project proposal of the Bangladesh Railway.
Dhirendra Nath Majumder, director general of the Bangladesh Railway, told TBS, "The Railway is buying the saloon coaches for the president. If the president wants, the Railway can arrange its operation."
He also said maximum safety will be ensured in the presidential saloon coaches. They will purchase the coaches after taking the opinion of the Special Security Force (SSF), which is in charge of the president's security.
Mamun-al-Rashid, member of the Planning Commission's Physical Infrastructure Division, said, "The project proposal will be presented at the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council [Ecnec] only if the Bangladesh Railway can present the rationale of buying the presidential saloon coaches in the right way."
He added, "The Railway had discussed with the SSF what kind of security measures would be in place in the saloon coaches, but it did not discuss whether there was any need for that. Now, in consultation with the SSF, the Railway will inform the Planning Commission about this and the commission will take a decision in this regard."