In a major boost for farmers amid the Covid-induced lockdown, Bangladesh Railway has launched a special luggage van service for transporting fruits and vegetables on the Dhaka-Panchagarh route.
Deputy Commissioner of Panchagarh, Dr Sabina Yeasmin inaugurated the train service at Panchagarh Rail Station on Monday.
Some three metric tonnes of different vegetables, including cucumber, tomato and eggplant, were transported by the wagon on the first trip.
Railway Lalmonirhat Divisional Manager Shah Sufi Nur Mohammad, said, "The government has taken the initiative to facilitate the farmers and traders to transport their goods easily from one district to another district. Already Bangladesh Railway operates a special train for carrying mangoes and a cattle train."
"Apart from carrying passengers, the Railway also transports oil, fertilisers and other goods. There are four wagons in the special train, each having a capacity of carrying 40 metric tonnes of vegetables."
According to railway sources, vegetables can be transported to Dhaka by the train three days a week -- Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays.
On this train, traders will also enjoy a 25 percent discount on the existing fee on carrying vegetables, fruits and other agricultural items while other charges will be abolished.
Panchagarh Railway Station Master Masud Pervez, said, "Traders and farmers can board the train with their products from all stations on the route."
However, Rashidul Islam and Badruzzaman Babu, two traders of Panimach Pukuri in Sadar upazila, said, "We will have to calculate our gains before using the train for transporting goods."
Superintendent of Panchagarh Police Mohammad Yusuf Ali, Zila Parishad Chairman Anwar Sadat, Railway Lalmonirhat Divisional Manager Shah Sufi Nur Mohammad, Sadar Upazila Nirbahi Officer Arif Hossain were present on the occasion.
Bangladesh Railway has decided to launch the luggage van to transport vegetables from different parts of the country, Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan said in April last year.
Already eight parcel trains are operating to transport agricultural products across the country.
Meanwhile, coronavirus claimed 112 more lives in 24 hours till Monday morning, taking the death toll in the country to 10,497.
Besides, 4,271 new cases were reported during the period, raising the number of confirmed cases in the country to 723,221.