Train Commuters in Bangladesh Have ‘Nothing to Hold On To’

Your commute might be really boring, but at least its safer than riding perched on the top of a speeding train with nothing to hold on to. That’s the daily experience for many commuters and travellers in Bangladesh. Sometimes people ride on train roofs or between cars because the compartments below are full, but most often it’s to avoid paying the fare.

Since 2006 photographer GMB Akash has been capturing these people in a series called “Nothing to Hold On To.” He found that most are low income workers, and depending on how far they live from the city, some spend hours each day riding hundreds of miles just to get to work.

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I wanted to draw attention to the danger the stowaways expose themselves to; gruesome accidents are routine for free riders,” says Akash. “There is nothing to hold on to and it is very difficult to keep your footing. On a recent ride, I spoke to Majed Miya, a carpenter who has traveled on the roof for two decades. Miya said he enjoys riding on the roof: ‘no one really disturbs me there, except the fear of death.’

As Akash’s long exposure images convey, the journey to work is an incredibly dangerous one, where regular accidents occur and often end fatally. Especially dangerous is the winter, when wet roofs become slippery.

In winter,” explains Akash, “the surface of the train gets slippery, and once I stepped without concern and fell. It is difficult to take pictures in the opposite direction to the running train. Alongside other passengers I have faced terrible winter, unwanted rains and continual heat on the top of the train.

Find more in this series along with Akash’s other exceptional work on his personal website.

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