Bangladesh Railway is a government owned public mass transport agency. Railway has some special features such as the most cheap, reliable, comfortable, safe and popular transport in the world and also in Bangladesh. Peoples from all spheres of the society like to use Railway as the most comfortable and the safest mode of transport.
Overall safety of Bangladesh Railway means the totality of all safety and security efforts designed to provide reasonable protection to system, process, persons or objects from the threat of accidents, impairment or damages. Safety is the Endeavour to avoid undesirable incidents/accidents such as disasters, system or process errors and human failure whenever possible.
On the other hand, security is the measures to counter willful or intentional disruptions. Willful disruptions can be caused by deliberate human action of gradations ranging from minor disruption such as causing hindrance and vandalism to major disruptions such as criminal acts, sabotage and terrorism. A Railway network may be said perfectly safe and secured when the passengers, Railway employees and others completely feel safe and secured in trains, at stations, on platforms and at marshalling yards and every other places of Railway. Any movement or work on and in the vicinity of Railway can be carried out in a safe and secured manner.
Worldwide, the Railway is the safest mode of transport. But it is not absolutely safe and free from any accident. We should not expect that incidents or accidents should never occur in Railway transport. Bangladesh Railway has so many limitations and problems. It is fur behind to achieve the international standards in respect of modernization of infrastructures, rolling stocks, their maintenance methods, providing passengers facilities etc. In spite of these lackings, Bangladesh Railway is the safest mode of transport in our country
- Safety and security of Railway almost relates with-
- Safety of train passengers
- Accidents involving passenger, freight and other trains
- Railway infrastructure
- Rolling stock
- Disaster organization and crisis control unit
- Personal security of Railway passenger.
- Safety of all categories of Railway employees, namely track workers, shunters, train drivers, conductor guards, cleaners and different technicians
- Safety of Level Crossing (L/C) gate users
- Safety of unauthorized persons on the Railway tracks
- Persons who suicide under Railway
- External safety (Transport of dangerous goods)
- Un-authorized level crossing gate users.
- Roof riders.
All kinds of incidents/accidents endanger the safety and security of the above persons, infrastructures, Rolling stocks etc. In Bangladesh Railway, the major factors contributing accidents/incidents are as follows:
Lack of proper or inadequate maintenance of Railway infrastructure such as Railway tracks, Bridges, signaling & interlocking system, Rolling stocks, etc.
Lack of adequate knowledge of the Railway staffs specially employed for train operation such as drivers, guards, station masters, gate keepers, deferent technicians etc. about Railway operating rules, regulations, codes & manuals.
Maintenance of Railway lines, Bridges, Signaling & Interlocking system, Rolling stocks not in accordance with the guidelines of the concerning maintenance/operating manuals.
- Disregarding of signals by loco drivers.
- Negligence of duties by maintenance/operating staff of operating department of BR.
- Sabotage, vandalism, crime or terrorist activities by miscreants.
- Improper design and construction of P-way, bridges, rolling stocks, signaling and interlocking system etc.
- Construction of Railway lines, Bridges, rolling stock with defective materials without following the appropriate specifications and standards.
- Hijacking on the running trains.
- Fire of the running trains.
- L/C gate users disregard gate signals and also hand signals given by gate keepers.
- Creating of unauthorized level crossing gates by different organizations and local peoples.
- Using of Railway embankment or Railway tracks by unauthorized persons.
- Making of roads parallel to the Railway embankment or Railway tracks by local Chairman/Member of Union Council without taking permission from Bangladesh Railway.
- Construction of shops/markets/unauthorized structure on/by the site of the Railway embankment/ tracks.
- BR is running with a huge shortage of manpower specially of class II, class III & class IV employees who are directly related with train operation, maintenance of the infrastructure such as p-way, bridges, culverts, rolling stocks, station building, level crossing gate operations etc. As a result, 139 (B- class-109 and D-class 30) number of Railway stations have been closed due to want of Station Masters and booking Clark. Railway infrastructure, rolling stocks can not be also properly maintained due to shortage of manpower which are another barrier of safe running of trains.
- Most vulnerable areas of Railway safety and security-
Level crossing gates are one of the most vulnerable area for securing safety of Bangladesh Railway. There are 1402 authorized (456 manned and 946 unmanned) L/C gates and about 890 nos. of un-authorized level crossing gates in Bangladesh Railway. Some gates are located within the station limits called traffic gates which are solely under the control of station masters. The remaining gates are located in the block sections i,e in between to adjacent stations which are called engineering gates operated by engineering department. At some of the authorized gates, there are gate man, gate barriers, telephone connections with the nearest Railway stations and signaling system in accordance with the general & subsidiary rules, engineering & signaling maintenance manuals of Bangladesh Railway. But in case of un-authorized L/C gates, these are totally un-manned, un-protected and no train approach signals and warning bells, telephones, gate men and gate barrier are available. So, most of the accidents occur at these gates due to pass these crossings by road users carelessly and desperately taking with all risks. Also some accidents occur at authorized L/C gates due to deliberately ignor the red signals by road users with concomitant risks.
- All the network of Bangladesh Railway is open system even in the Railway station premises. Any body can cross the Railway track from any where of the Railway network. The young guys sit on the Railway tracks and enjoying themselves with chatting, listening songs using head phones, talking by mobile phones, browsing internet, enjoying movie and drama in the smart phones etc. In addition, a huge number of peoples walk on/along the Railway tracks and some body use mobile phone during this time. As a result, accidents occur due to their careless, irresponsible and desperate attitude and behavior.
- Roof riding is another major problem for Railway safety and security. In face of different festivals specially Eid-ul-Fitar, Eid-ul-Azha, Tongi Estema and during different long Government holydays, there is a heavy rush of passengers on the train and Bangladesh Railway can not meet the demand and accommodate all the passengers in trains. As a result, huge number of passengers travel on the roof of the trains which is not safe and secured for the passengers as well as Railway transport. Some unwanted incidents also occur for the roof riders.
- Stone throwing on the running trains by some wonderers and children is another problem for safe running of trains and securing safety and security of passengers. The children throw the stones on running trains as their amusement or fun. But due to stone throwing, the passengers on the running trains are often seriously injured and even killed unexpectedly which is a great concern of BR. Besides casualties, windows of Railway coaches are damaged due to stone throwing which are required to repair in the workshop and needs time and money. Bangladesh Railway has identified the actual spots where such incidents of stone throwing occur frequently and is trying to take preventive action to stop the recurrence of the incidents. Fore this purpose, Bangladesh Railway is employing its own security forces and taking the help of other law enforcing agencies of the Government. At the same time, Bangladesh Railway has been running awareness campaign to make the people aware and inform the messages about the casualties and damages incurred in such incidents in different areas. In addition, Bangladesh Railway often campaigns against the roof riding, unauthorized encroachment of Railway tracks etc. but these activities can not be stopped completely.
Ways of securing safety and security of Bangladesh Railway-
- The infrastructure, passengers, freight and other rolling stock shall comply the prevailing international safety standards and be used in a safe manner with proper supervision by the concerning department.
- The security department of Bangladesh Railway (RNB & Railway police) shall take security measures and exhibit an adequate security awareness to control vandalism, sabotage, crime and terrorist activities on the Railway network, trains, at stations and other places in the Railway premises.
- All those operating the Railway system, infrastructure managers and Railway management shall bear the full responsibility for the safety of the system from each of their own part.
- The Railway network is an open system and it may be protected by fencing/boundary wall specially in the metropolitan cities/densely populated areas for protection of encroachment of Railway tracks by unauthorized persons.
- Reduction of the probability of vandalism, sabotage, crime & terrorism on the Railway networks, trains, at Railway stations, on platforms, marshalling yards etc.
- The promotion of the restoration of the Railway system and the transport function and reduction of the effect of accident.
- The risks are controlled using the safety methods familiar within the context of the railway safety, such as safety management system, the safety chain, risk analysis and the safety report specific attention is devoted to possible interactions between safety and security officers.
- The prevention of occupational accidents involving all categories of railway employees, namely track workers, shunters, train drivers, conductors, cleaners and (repair) technicians.
- Creating safety awareness of the Railway employees and providing them the knowledge they need about the risk associated with their work through proper training and competence.
- Protection and control of both authorized and un-authorized level crossing gates.
- Use of video surveillance (CCTV) system at key locations of Bangladesh Railway.
- Un-authorized gates should be either authorized and provided with gate signals or constructed overpass/underpass. If these are not possible, the crossing should be immediately closed. Otherwise, accidents can not be stopped at these rail crossings.
- Some motivational campaigns are to be carried out regularly by BR using electronic and print media about the risks and threats of encroachment of Railway embankment, tracks and level crossing gates by unauthorized persons.
- Regular campaigning against the roof riding and stone throwing to the running trains by some wonderers and children.
Analysis of Accidents
Safety has been one of the biggest concern of BR. If we analysis the train accidents occurred in last 5 years (2014-2018), majority of the accidents were caused due to derailments. In last 5 years, the number of average accidents due to derailment per year is 70. 2%. One of the main reason for derailments is defect in the tracks or rolling stocks. The second highest accidents occurred at authorized and unauthorized level crossing gates (10.6%).
Recently, unmanned level crossings continue to be the biggest cause of casualties in Rail accidents. The government investing huge money in the development of Railway sector. As a result, the infrastructure and rolling stocks are being rehabilitated, replaced and modernized and rate of train accidents are being reduced day by day.
Role of Department of Railway Inspection (DRI) regarding Railway safety
This is a very mini department under the Ministry of Railways and it works as a regulator for Bangladesh Railway and headed by Government Inspector of Bangladesh Railway (GIBR).
The main function of this department is to ensure safety, security & passengers amenities through routine inspection of Railway track, bridges, rolling stocks, signaling & interlocking system, foot over bridges, Railway stations, level crossing gates, examining the knowledge of Railway operating staffs etc. and submitting report to the Government. In accordance with the Railway act, 1990, GIBR has given enough power to oversee the activities of BR in respect of safety, security and passengers amenities.
But it has some limitations such as a very few man power, limited resources and lack of efficient facilities currently. The top most authority of this department has status of joint secretary to meet the requirements of the Railway Act, 1890 (Act IX of 1890). GIBR’s role as important authority has been undermined since long due to lack of resources. DRI as a regulator must be strengthened and empowered for the sack of playing greater role and the status of the top most authority of this department should be upgraded for ensuring safety, security and passengers amenities of BR.
Bangladesh Railway is a thrust and priority sector of the Government. The Government is eager to modernize and upgrade Bangladesh Railway as an international standards in all respects and accordingly investing huge money in this sector. In 2009- 2010, the Government allotted the development budget for BR Tk 6900.00 millions. For current financial year (2018-19), the Government allotted development budget Tk 109391.30 millions.
The Government approved a long term plan for BR from 2016 to 2045. In this plan, there are 230 projects for which Tk 553662 crore are the estimated cost. If the Government continues its support and BR can implement the above approved long term plan of BR, there shall be a miracle change in BR and it will achieve an international standards in all respects specially in safety and security levels.