DHAKA: India is positive about Bangladesh’s proposal seeking 20 railway engines from them, according to a delegation led by the Ministry of Railways that held meetings with their Indian counterparts last week.
“We went there [New Delhi] to do ground work and found them very positive about our proposal,” said a member of the delegation, wishing not to be named.
Manoj Kumar Srivastava, ED-Traffic Transportation (Freight) at Railway Board/New Delhi led the Indian side during the meetings held on Wednesday and Thursday 20th June.
Monjur-Ul-Alam Chowdhury, Joint Director (Mechanical), Rashida Sultana Ghani, Joint Director (Operation), and Kali Kanta Ghosh, Deputy Director (Marketing) were in the Bangladesh delegation led by Joint Secretary Rafiqul Islam.
The Bangladesh Railway (BR) would now send a formal proposal to India through diplomatic channel, said Mofazzel Hossain, secretary at the Ministry of Railways.
The terms and conditions — whether Bangladesh would hire or get as courtesy the locomotives — were yet to be fixed, he said.
The BR sent a proposal to the railways ministry in April to “hire” or “get as courtesy” 20 railway engines from India until the first batch of 70 locomotives that Bangladesh bought from the US and South Korea starts arriving late next year.
With 72 percent locomotives of BR already crossing their economic life, the government considers hiring locomotives from India to help the railway overcome the crisis.
The BR suggested hiring 10 metre gauge (MG) and as many broad gauge (BG) locomotives. Bangladesh has never hired any locomotive from any country before.
Although India had phased out MG locomotives, during the visit, the Bangladesh delegation found that some were still being used and looked similar to the ones available in Bangladesh, said the delegation member.
“In case India agrees to release those, river route has to be taken because there is no inter-border track for MG locomotives between the neighbouring countries.
“Now our technical hands will finalise the specification of the locomotives and BR will send a formal proposal to the ministry in this regard,” he said.
About terms and conditions, he told this correspondent, “If we want to get the locomotives as courtesy, the matter needs to be settled by top-level officials of both counties.”
In return, India might propose Bangladesh to boost up operation of inter-border freight trains, he added.
According to the BR, it has 178 MG locomotives, of which 139 have crossed their 20-year economic life. And of its 90 BG locomotives, 55 have crossed economic life.
“If the situation and laws permit, we will hire 20 locomotives from India for two years,” Mofazzel Hossain told this newspaper in April.