Mismanagement of rail lines maintenance was behind Wednesday’s derailment of the oil-carrying train in Rajshahi’s Charghat upazila, said a manager of Bangladesh Railway.
Of the train’s 30 tanker wagons, eight went off the lines in outer Sardaha Road Station area around 6:00pm, damaging around 500 metres of the lines.
Rail communications with Rajshahi resumed around 10:30pm yesterday after rescue and repair operations were completed, said the railway authorities.
Trips of at least 19 passenger trains from Rajshahi were cancelled yesterday.
The cancellation caused thousands of passengers to suffer, especially the pilgrims who were going to the capital to catch their flights to Saudi Arabia.
“Our engineers primarily detected a spread of gauge [space between the lines] that caused the oil train derailment and we found a portion of the rail lines broken,” Khondoker Shahidul Islam, general manager of west zone railway, told The Daily Star.
“We can’t see anything else but mismanagement of rail lines maintenance,” he said, adding that the incidents of spread of gauge or breaking of rail lines happened due to a lack of scheduled maintenance.
Witnesses and railway engineers who visited the scene said the rail lines of the spot lacked required amount of stone and sleepers. They said bad weather and torrential rain aggravated the situation.
Meanwhile, the authorities suspended Assistant Engineer Abdur Rashid, who was responsible for the rail lines maintenance, for negligence in duty and formed a five-member committee to probe the incident.
The probe body has been asked to find the cause of the accident and persons responsible and submit the report within three days.
Talking to this newspaper, Abdullah Al Mamun, the probe body chief and divisional transportation officer, said due to bad weather, the rescue operations began five hours late at 11:00pm.
It took more time to rescue four wagons, each weighing around 50 tonnes, as those were in a bad shape, said Mizanur Rahman, Pakshey divisional railway manager.
After rescuing the tanker wagons, the authorities sent those to Harian Railway Station and rebuilt the rail lines as sleeper, ballast, and lines were destroyed, he added.
A good number of passengers experienced immense sufferings as the authorities failed to provide them with clear information about the revised train schedules.
The authorities returned over Tk 26 lakh to some 7,000 passengers of trains, whose trips were cancelled, until 2:00pm yesterday. They then stopped accepting tickets for returning money as the ticket counters had a shortage of money, said AMM Shahnewaz, chief commercial manager of west zone railway.
Mehedi Hasan of Chapainawabganj was taking his parents to the haji camp in the capital yesterday as they were scheduled to fly on Saturday night.
He bought train tickets, but returned those as their train was cancelled. He did not manage bus tickets as the demand for bus tickets went high after the train accident.
Hasan added that if the authorities could not restore the rail communications yesterday evening, they would have to get in a local bus to reach the capital in time.
Mainul Hasan bought a train ticket to Dhaka to join a new job yesterday. “I will hold the railway authorities responsible if I cannot join my job by today [yesterday] evening.”
The platform of Rajshahi Railway Station was full of passengers all day long.