Railway to introduce dual fuel technology
Burning gas can reduce carbon emission
Golam Mostafa Jibon: Though, the journey by train is called as very safe and comfortablefor the commuters, country’s almost 61 percent trains are running with date expired locomotives that posing serious risk of accidents.Finding no way, the railway is going to introduce dual fuel technology soon that will help to protect the environment from the onslaught of climate change.
Due to lack of proper locomotives of the trains, railway has turned into death trap for the commuters as train accidents have now become a regular phenomenon putting many lives at risk. Besides, lack of timely renovation of the railway tracks, use of unauthorized level crossing and many other reasons, country’s people are experiencing frequent train accidents causing concern to the elite people.
According to the sources, about 61 percent of the total 263 locomotives in the railway have crossed the prescribed lifespan. Railway has fallen in trouble over the proposal to convert those to dual fuel as they have already crossed the lifespan of 20 years.
The dilapidated feature of the trains’ locomotives came to light recently during an investigation of the Daily Industry.
According to railway sources, railway was introduced in this country in 1862 with steam locomotives. The first diesel engine was added to a train in the region in 1953. However, even in 1961, the then East Pakistan was served by 416 steam engines. In 1980, all steam engines were removed.
At present there are 371 passenger coaches and more than 50 freight coaches running daily in Bangladesh on 1,846 km meter gauge and 676 km broad gauge lines.
The railways have now 191 locomotives for meter gauge and 92 locomotives for broad gauge. Of them, 267 locomotives are in operation. The normal life of these engines is 20 years. As such, 61 percent have expired. Of them, 39 percent of engines are over 40 years old. Nine of the running meter gauge engines were built in 1953. Besides, 31 were made between 1961 and 1963 and 21 in 1969. There are 11 locomotives made in 1978, some 15 in 1981, some 16 in 1988, some 21 in 1995 and some 5 in 1996. Besides, some 39 locomotives were manufactured between 1993 and 2013 and some 20 locomotives were manufactured in 2020-21 have been accounted for by Bangladesh Railway.
On November last, an eight-member delegation led by the Railway Secretary visited the railways in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and France. There is also talk of dual fuel technology with G-Volution. They were then invited the experts to come to Bangladesh and observe the railway situation on the spot. As part of this, a delegation team visited the railway building. Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujon is skeptical about the proposal to convert 61 percent of the locomotives of the railways to dual fuel as they have reached the stipulated lifespan. While contacted, Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujon said, “Whether it would be profitable to introduce this technology in railways, it may be seen in the pilot project for now. G-Volution, a UK technology company, has come up with a proposal to make Bangladesh’s locomotives suitable for running on diesel as well as gas. Both diesel and gas are fossil fuels. The burning of such fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is being blamed for climate change. However, burning gas reduces carbon emissions much more than diesel.”
The Railway Minister further said that,”Most of the locomotives of our railways are above 42 years of age. Here we have to buy both oil and gas run engines. Both are import dependent. So, we have to see how affordable it will be.”
The Railway Minister suggested that, a joint delegation of G-Volution and Railways have visited the railway workshops in Pahartali, Parbatipur and Dhaka. They can decide whether such work is possible or not.
Railway Secretary Humayun Kabir said, “The government also has a commitment on dual fuel locomotives or environmentally friendly railways. However, 70 to 80 years old locomotives have also remained in the railway fleet so far.”
Chris Smith, managing director of G-Volution during a visit to Bangladesh said, “A dual fuel engine would be a good move to reduce carbon emissions. If Bangladesh wants, this initiative can be taken forward.”
ABM Obaidul Bari, chief executive of the company’s Bangladeshi agent said, “Their Company had experimentally fueled several engines in the UK and Spain. But all the locomotives that have been added to the technology are new.”
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