The Bangladesh Railway has been there for over a century covering 2,791 kilometers and has employed over 26,349 regular staff up to date. The government-owned and operated railway has a very strong history that dates back in 1862, November 15, when it was commenced. It started as a short route to ease the traffic and later transformed the transport industry. It is the most reliable transport means in Bangladesh. Know the brief history of the Bangladesh railway.
The Early Days (Before 1900)
During the early years of railway initiation in 1862, it covered the Darshana to Jagotee route. The 5.6 ft. Broad railways only covered 53.41 then. From January 1871, the Eastern Bengel Railway extended the Darsana to the Jagati railway to Goalanda. The construction continued and by 1879, several routes were already in place. The meter gauge railway progressed from Sara to Kaunia. However, in 1885 January 4th, the railway extended by a distance of 14.98 kilometers. During that time, the broad gauge considered by the builders had decreased to 3.3 ft.
In 1891, a major transformation was witnessed, and the Bengal Assam Railway Company mandated to execute the railway building operation was replaced by the British Government builders. By 1895, there were additional two-meter gauge lines that run from Chittagong to Comilla, 149.89km and from Laksam to Chandpur a distance of 50.89km. All these advancements are associated with the England companies that took up the mandate. From 1895 to 1899, the lines had increased with Darsana and Poradaha lines being converted to a double line. This had a great impact on railway transportation.
The I9th Century
The 1900 century had an extensive transformation in the railway industry. It started with the construction of Laksam to the Noakhali section in 1903. It did not take long before the government acquired the Bengal and Brahmaputra Railway Company. After the purchase and through overseeing by the government ministry, various sections opened, including the Kulaura – Sylhet section that took three years to complete, 1912 – 1915.
From 1918 to 1946, the majority of the lines were transformed into double lines to cater to the needs of the public. Besides, the narrow gauge lines were transformed into broad gauge. Considering that railway transport was now a priority means of transport to every person and the trains kept on changing often, these advancements played a critical role.
In 1947, when India was experiencing partition, approximately 2,603.92 km of railway fell within the boundary of the Eastern side of Pakistan, and the government of Pakistan took the mandate over the railway. It was not long before the Pakistan government named it Pakistan Eastern Railway. In I951 and 1954, the Jessore – Darsana, and Sylhet to Chatak Bazar were open to traffic.
By 1998, the railway administration experienced multiple changes. First, the Pakistan Eastern Railway was later named the Bangladesh Railway moments after Bangladesh became a sovereign member state with a legally constituted railway board in 1972. Ten years later, the board was dismissed, and the Ministry of Communication was in charge of the railway operations. Thirteen years later, in 1995, the Bangladesh Railway Authority was constituted with nine members to oversee the Bangladesh Railway.
The 20th Century
From 2003, the Bangladesh Railway has witnessed a lot of advancements, especially in the daily operations. The first intercity train was launched in 2003, and the communication between various points received a boost. In 2004, there was a concrete communication between Dhaka and Lalmonirhat. It was not long before Bangladesh joined the Trans Asian Railways (TAR) network in 2007. From 2007 up to today, travelers have witnessed express travels, comfortable trains, easy booking and secure transportation.
Special Things that Make Bangladesh Railway History Outstanding
- Locomotives have kept on advancing over the years.
- Cargo and freight services are at a discounted fee.
- Railway transport is primary in Bangladesh, and multiple customers have been transported up to today.
- Executive and fairly charged accommodation classes that are grouped in either air-conditioned, first, or second classes.
- Multiple and Convenient railway stations.
- Easy and fast ticketing approaches.
Knowing the Bangladesh railway history helps appreciate the steps the Bangladesh Railway has been through for over a decade. Statistics from a study conducted in 2004–2005 indicate that approximately 42 million passengers used Railway transport in Bangladesh. There is a high possibility of that number doubling in the future.
Image Credit to: Topu Saha