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Bangladesh not ready for automated train operation system

  • Published at 12:26 am November 15th, 2019
Railways Minister Advocate Nurul Islam Sujan
File photo of Railways Minister Advocate Nurul Islam Sujan Collected

But the government is working on it, says railways minister

Many countries around the world, including China and India, use an automatic control system to prevent train crash. But Bangladesh is not prepared yet.

And it’s not going to happen in near future, according to the railways minister.

“We cannot install the automated system right now to control railway traffic, as our fleet of locomotives is not compatible for that,” Nurul Islam Sujan told reporters in Dhaka on Thursday.

“We even have some engines economic lives of which have expired around 20 years ago, but they are still on the fleet,” he added.

The minister said that they were planning to install the automatic operation system in trains. “But implementation of that will require a lot of time.”

He said this system could not be installed in any particular zone. “We will have to install it on the railway network across Bangladesh.”

“However, we are now working on importing locomotives and coaches compatible with the automation system,” he added.

The automatic train operation (ATO) is an operational safety enhancement device used to help automate operation of trains. With the system installed, a train can be automatically controlled, even without the presence of staff on board.

Mainly, the system is used on automated guideway transits and rapid transit systems to ensure safety of the passengers. Many modern systems are linked with Automatic Train Control and in many cases Automatic Train Protection, where normal signaller operations such as route setting and train regulation are carried out by the system.

These systems generally work together to maintain a train within a defined tolerance of its timetable.

“Basically, if a loco master falls asleep while driving a train, the station master or controller from the central operation office will be able stop or control the train if necessary using the automated system,” Awshim Kumar Talukder, chief signal and telecommunication engineer of Bangladesh Railway, told Dhaka Tribune on Thursday.

He said: “The automatic train operation system will be installed in the metrorail that is scheduled to be launched next year for the commuters in Dhaka.”

“But if we have that system on every train, fatal crashes can be prevented,” he added.

In 2016 and 2017, China and Japan had proposed Bangladesh Railway several times to install the automatic train operating system. But the Railways Ministry did not go for them because of the current incompatible locomotives.