After 125 years, outmoded rail law up for an update

Dhaka,  Tue,  26 September 2017
Published : 22 Aug 2017, 00:31:41 | Updated : 22 Aug 2017, 13:21:25

After 125 years, outmoded rail law up for an update

Matching railway system, services with modern times
Munima Sultana
An outmoded law governing Bangladesh Railway (BR) is now up for an update, after more than 125 years, for improving the rail-communications system and services to match up to modern-day demand.

Officials said the Railway Act 1890 will be amended for the first time since its enactment though it was consolidated before end of the British era.

They said in the present context, many rules, systems and amount of fines or punishment were found obsolete to run nearly 2,900 kilometres of rail route in Bangladesh.

Besides, the amendment will help the BR improve its efficiency levels and services to fit in the present context.

"In some cases, the British-old act introduced 50-paisa fine which cannot be suitable in the present time. So amendment will change those things and find avenues to improve," said one official.

He said decision to amend the act was taken recently but they had yet to start the process.

The official, however, said the review of the Railway Act will be completed within this year as it is a part of the Ministry of Railway's annual performance target.

Sources said the BR initiative is linked with government's directive for translating all laws into both English and Bangla languages. While translating it into Bengali, the state-owned train operator feels the need for updating it.

According to BR, the Railway Act 1890 was promulgated to operate entire train services under the British Empire which went through India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.  

The act was modified by the Indian government in 1935. Pakistan inherited its authority from the Indian Independence Act 1947 and Bangladesh after its independence in 1971.

India has replaced the act with a new law entitled 'The Indian Railway Act 1989'.

The officials said although services of the BR were not improved in comparison with the then British times, the authorities recently took various measures to upgrade the pro-poor communications system by investing billions of taka.

These include developing dual-gauge lines, meter-gauge and broad-gauge lines, electric train services etc.

Bangladesh Railway is now governed through east-and west-based administrative divisions which are now planned to be increased by two more.

The BR has developed only 300 kilometres of route since independence due to long negligence to the safe transportation service. The government has also recently been developing master plan to set up railway system throughout the country.
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