The Bangladesh Railway has asked the shippers not to carry by train the overloaded containers anymore to and from Chattogram and Dhaka as it takes more journey time and damages Bogie Flat Container Track (BFCT) wagons.
It said a 40-foot container should not carry more than 30.5 tonnes of cargoes while a 20-foot container will carry up to 30 tonnes of goods.
The order was issued as the trend of carrying overweight containers by train increased in the recent months, keeping locomotives and rolling stocks engaged for several days.
Currently, the BR has 178 meter-gauge locomotives and 139 of those have already passed the 20-year economic life. On the other hand, out of 90 broad-gauge locomotives, 55 are outdated.
Officials at the BR said that a normal container train needs 13-15 hours to reach Dhaka from Chattogram port, but the trains carrying overweight containers need up to 2-3 days.
With the overweight containers on board, a train runs in low speed, up to 30 kilometres an hour and not allowed to move at night time, resulting in long journey time.
The officials said that due to the long journey time, the engines remain engaged for days which the railway now cannot afford for having very limited number of functioning engines.
Usually, the overweight containers are carried by BFCT wagons in especially designated trains. But in recent time, the railway officials noticed that the bookings for overweight containers have increased significantly.
During the period from 10 December 2020 and 11 January 2021, the railway had to carry 94 'dangerous' goods laden overweight container and 45 overweight containers with general goods.
Officials said that due to carrying increased numbers of overweight containers, the under gear fittings of BFCT wagons are incurring damages. As a result, the wagons are losing their life span and the officials expressed the fear that they may face incidents during the journey time.
Director of Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association (BSAA) Mohammed Abdullah Jahir told the FE on Wednesday that they would face difficulties due to suddenly stopping the flow of overweight import containers which gradually increased amid market demand.
However, they will inform the development to the port of loading to circulate the information among the shippers.
On that basis, he said, the shippers will limit the weight of containers for carrying by train from Chattogram to Dhaka inland container depot.