Posted by: Duncan Chowdhury | February 17, 2009

Maglev train and Bengali time

Various opinions have been expressed earlier in this section about the proposed installation of the Maglev Train in the Dhaka Chittagong route. The debate was mostly concerning the exorbitant cost of such a venture. As it has been reported, this would be completely a foreign investment, the travellers of this train shall have to pay higher fare and the government exchequer has to pay plenty in foreign currency for the profit and investment repatriation.Besides the exorbitant cost, I do have an ethical question to raise. Does the people of our country deserve such a fast train, when most of us do not realise the value of time. We are often late in office not only by minutes but by hours, when we prefer to gossip more during our working hours, again close our pen well ahead of the closure of office hours.

It has become a general trend that most of our government as well as non governmental projects do not conclude as per the scheduled time. Wasting time has become a normal practice in our day to day life. In such a situation, what is the justification of introducing a fast train involving huge investment, which will save our travelling hours, when we are not in a position to utilise those hours for productive purposes.

To the contrary, I would propose the railway authorities to be more vigilant to work for the improvement of our existing railway system. Properly maintained railway tracks, locomotives and compartments will surely increase the quality and decrease the travelling time considerably. Not many years ago, in 1985, the first inter-city train Mohanagar was introduced between Dhaka and Chittagong, which took five hours to travel. We wonder, our railway authorities failed to maintain that time even. Now it takes more than six hours to travel by Subarna Express.

Further, the possibility could be explored to construct a new rail route from Comilla to Dhaka via Daudkandi and Narayanganj. Construction of a bridge over the river Meghna will be required then. This would curtail the length of railroads between Dhaka and Chittagong and save a lot of travel time. The investment will be substantial no doubt, but not millions of dollars required to build per kilometre of railway track.

Finally, I would urge the railway authorities to take serious efforts to improve the present system by maintaining the tracks properly, running the trains in time, so that we do not have to ask when shall the nine o’clock depart or when the nine o’clock due train shall arrive.

First Published in The Daily Star, Dhaka, Bangladesh on September 5, 2003

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