POST TIME: 12 June, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 12 June, 2019 01:24:37 AM
Banalata, non-stop train service only on paper

train service
only on paper

Nilima Banerjee, a 52-year-old woman with severe back problem, yesterday left Rajshahi for Dhaka by Banalata Express at 7am hoping she will be reaching the destination in the shortest possible time. She availed herself of a Banalata ticket as she knew the train provides non-stop service. However, she was in for surprise.

Although Banalata left Rajshahi on time, it reached Dhaka at 1:20pm, about an hour and a half behind schedule. However, this was not supposed to happen. Banalata is scheduled to reach its destination at 11:50am being a non-stop service.

Nilima said she was surprised at the delay and added that the train gave stoppage at several stations on its way towards the capital, although Banalata has been dubbed as the “first ever non-stop train service on the Dhaka-Rajshahi route.”

At 12pm, she was 3km away from Tongi, some 28km away from where she was supposed to be.

“It was anything but a non-stop service. It stopped several times and took passengers in and let some out,” an apparently vexed Nilima told The Independent.

Like Nilima, several other passengers of Banalata made same complaints to this correspondent. Some even complained that similar incidents have been occurring frequently since the Eid-ul-Fitr.

When contacted, Khandakar Shahidul Islam, General Manager of Western Zone of Bangladesh Railway, attributed the delay on crossings.

Shahidul said, “There is only one broad-gauge track for the northern districts spanning over a total of 572km. During this rush-time of the year, all train services are on and those are needed to be split-scheduled because of our single-line tracks.”

Being a single-line track, Banalata had to stop at different stations for crossings, Shahidul said, adding this has resulted in the unexpected delay in the train’s schedule.

However, passengers who boarded Banalata yesterday refuted Islam’s claim. Several of them said they saw train staff collecting money from those who boarded the train at different stations.

Shahidul also explained that the whole ‘split-schedule’ gets disrupted which aggravate the latency of all the train services like a domino effect whenever there is a late departure by a train service because of extra passengers and other factors.

For example, he said, the Shantahar Express train departed from Dinajpur an hour and a half late, which affected the schedule of all trains of the Eastern Zone.

Passengers of several other trains from the northern districts also faced similar experiences yesterday. Although the mad holiday rush of Eid-ul-Fitr is on the wane for the last two days, frequent disruptions of train schedule have angered the passengers.

The independent learned that almost all major train services from the northern districts - Banalata Express, Rangpur Express and Lalmani Express - have failed to reach destinations on time mainly because of late departure from originating stations and excessive pressure of passengers at different stations. Even, passengers reportedly boarded trains at unscheduled stoppages.

Some of those trains had latency of as much as of four-five hours in reaching destination, making the passengers suffer.

The Bangladesh Railway officials told The Independent that there is “quite a reasonable” excuse behind these schedule failures, especially during and after the Eid-time rush.