Bangladesh Railway (BR) has taken an initiative to hire 20 locomotives from India to facilitate smooth train service across the country, as most of its engines have already become old and outdated.
Although the state-owned train operator has a plan to procure locomotives, the new engines are unlikely to arrive in the country within two years.
So, in the meantime, the BR is looking to hire Indian locomotives to meet the shortage of engines.
The BR sent a delegation to New Delhi recently to talk with the Indian Railways in this regard after sharing the issue with the Indian High Commission, sources said.
They said the Indian side has agreed, in principle, to provide the engines and sought a proposal from the BR about the required locomotives.
"We want to hire locomotives for a short time. Initially, there is a plan to hire 10 metre gauge locomotives and 10 broad gauge ones," said an official who was on the delegation.
The Ministry of Railways is now dealing with the issue, he said.
However, sources said, the Indian Railways converted its rail track into broad gauge from metre gauge a long time ago.
Also, Indian trains are now being operated with electric locomotives, whereas the BR runs train with diesel locomotives.
BR officials said they are readying specifications for the required locomotives for submission to the Indian Railway.
Railway Secretary Mofazzel Hossain said the matter is under discussion and being processed through proper channel. Initially, the BR is considering hiring the locomotives for two years.
Replying to a question about the difference between the rail tracks of the two countries, the secretary said some fine-tuning might be needed to run the Indian locomotives in the country.
The BR has now 179 MG locomotives, 140 of which are over-aged and crossed their economic life of 20 years. Many of these locomotives have been overhauled.
Sources, however, said the BR has given priority to procurement of modern locomotives and replacement of worn-out locomotives in a bid to meet the shortage of engines and increase revenue earnings.
The BR has now a plan to import 140 locomotives, including 40 broad gauge ones, but none of them are likely to arrive in the country in the next two years, they said.
BR officials said the tender process for 70 locomotives was completed at the end of the last year and the remaining process would be done shortly.
Though the BR is one of the government agencies receiving the highest budgetary allocation, it has yet to ensure comfortable journey for the passengers through increasing the number of coaches and trains.
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