• Saturday, Jan 25, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:22 am

Collapsing train schedules and highway tailbacks plague Eid travel

  • Published at 12:21 am August 11th, 2019
EId-Rajib Dhar
File photo: Homebound passengers pile on to the roof of an overcrowded train at Kamalapur Railway Station in Dhaka during Eid-ul-Azha Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

Some trains reached Dhaka  as much as 12 hours behind schedule

With train schedules continuing to collapse, train service to and from Dhaka saw massive disruptions on Saturday, causing immense suffering to Eid holidaymakers.

Some trains reached Dhaka  as much as 12 hours behind schedule.

However, Chittagong and Sylhet-bound trains left the station on time, according to Resho Banik, Kamalapur Railway station in-charge.

She added that the main reason for the delays was slow movement of trains on the Bangabandhu Multipurpose Bridge.

On Friday, Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan had said train schedules are likely to continue being affected until the double lane on the Bangabandhu Multipurpose Bridge in Sirajganj is completed.

The Rajshahi-bound Dhumketu Express  left Kamalapur Railway Station six hours behind schedule  on Saturday, while the Khulna-bound Sundarban Express was five hours late. The Nilsagar Express and Rangpur Express were delayed by eight hours, and the Lalmonirhat Express (special) by 10 hours.

Many passengers complained of having to wait for hours on end in the hot and humid weather. Some also said they faced significant trouble purchasing tickets online.

Manob Sarkar said he had to struggle for three hours online, to get a ticket for the Parbatipur-bound Nilsagar Express. 

“When I finally got the ticket, I felt very relieved,” he said

Trains at the station were very overcrowded, with a number of passengers travelling on the roofs of compartments.

Fresh train schedules

Amid significant criticism of the train schedule collapse, Bangladesh Railway authorities rescheduled the departure times for several trains at Kamalapur Railway Station.

At least six trains departing the station for the west zone of Bangladesh Railway have been rescheduled, with the new schedule assuming the trains may be late by 1-13 hours.

As of 5pm on Saturday, the Dhumketu Express was rescheduled for departure at 5:30pm from the originally scheduled departure time of 6am, the Sundarban express was rescheduled to 2:20pm from 6:20am, and the Chilahati-bound Nilsagar Express was rescheduled to 6:10pm from its original departure time of 8am.

The Rangpur express was expected to leave Kamalapur station at 10:35pm, against the original time of 9am, and the Lalmonirhat-bound Lalmoni Eid Special Train was rescheduled to 11:15pm against its original departure time of 9.15am.

The Silk City Express has been rescheduled to 11:40pm, against the original time of 2:40pm. 

Secretary of the Railways Ministry, Mofazzal Hossain, has said passengers can return their tickets for trains on Sunday and get refunds for the severely delayed train schedule. 

Tailback on Dhaka-Tangail Highway worsens

There was a 50km-long tailback on the Dhaka-Tangail highway on Saturday, causing immense suffering to thousands of homebound Eid travellers.

The tailback stretched from the Bangabandhu Bridge in Sirajganj to Tangail’s Mirzapur upazila.

Tangail Superintendent of Police (SP), Sanjib Kumar Rai, said the gridlock was caused by severe traffic congestion and also because toll booths were closed for a while.

“Law enforcement is working to ease gridlock on the highways,” SP Sanjib added.

Vehicles have been moving slowly on the highway since Friday, when a 100-km tailback was reported. Many passengers lamented they were stuck at the same place for hours.

Quader says no tailbacks on highways

Road, Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said there are no long tailbacks on highways, but vehicles are moving slowly.

Cattle-laden vehicles are to blame for the traffic congestion, not the condition of roads, he said, visiting a mobile court drive at Mohakhali inter-district bus terminal in Dhaka on Saturday.

“Neither the condition of the roads nor a lack of coordination by the Road Transport Department is responsible for tailbacks.  There are no long tailbacks on highways but vehicles are moving slowly. No one can deny that,” Quader said.

Long wait for buses 

At the Gabtoli and Kalyanpur bus counters, hundreds of passengers were waiting for buses. Many said they arrived at the bus terminals early Saturday morning, but were forced to wait for hours. 

Bus operators said traffic congestion on the Dhaka-Tangail Highway and along the Bangabandhu Bridge in Sirajganj triggered the crisis. 

Sadarghat sees low passenger turnout 

The rush of passengers at Sadarghat launch terminal was much lower on Saturday than the previous two days, with vessel owners hoping there will be a greater number of passengers today. 

At least 150 launches departed the terminal on Friday.  on Saturday evening the figure dropped to below 50.