RAILWAY tickets have been recently in great demand, as New Age reported on Wednesday, and the Bangladesh Railway has for some time been struggling to cope with the growing demand. This is an encouraging piece of news in that people now prefer travelling by train, which is cost-effective, safe and, perhaps, comfortable although the railway is often reported not to have been making profits. But what is bad about this is the reason people are increasingly travelling by train. They are doing so because the road communication is in a very bad shape, especially along the northern routes. Travel by bus is faster than travel by train. Yet people are now not willing to, and cannot, catch buses for long-distance routes because of the road condition and the time that travel by bus now takes at times double the time it takes for travel by train. Two consecutive floodings in 2017 — flash flooding in March–April and regular flooding in August–September, have left the roads potholed, cratered and, even, broken at places, and they have not been properly repaired and rehabilitated thus far.
Such a situation does not only weigh heavily on trains and, therefore, railways, which have not been in a good condition either, but also harms faster transport that the road communication entails. With the demand for train tickets growing more, it could very well spell a disaster in communications, especially on long-distance routes. And it is the people who will bear the brunt as they would need to defer their travel that may be urgent in the event of scarcity of train tickets. Goods transport may also come to be harmed, adding to the sufferings of people as they would not get commodities that they would need it time. This might also push up goods prices, which is unacceptable, especially at a time when the cost of living has already gone up. It was for the government to take steps immediately after the flooding, which ended in September, to repair road and highway stretches, bridges, culverts and ferry terminals that have been damaged. Four months after the flooding, a growing demand for train tickets might seem profitable for the railway, but it is bad altogether for the entire communications system and people who need to travel at the shortest possible time by not spending that much that air travel, which offers a limited scope, requires.
The government, under the circumstance, must take steps to repair and rehabilitate stretches of roads and highways, bridges, culverts and ferry terminals that have been damaged in the flooding in the past year. The government has already been late enough to wake up to the reality that people are forced to face and get down to work while the Bangladesh Railway must find a better way to manage its ticket problems. The government must also improve on the current deplorable state of the railway so that citizens can have better services.
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