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Let’s mourn the engineered demise of Pakistan Railways: Shame on the ‘people’s government’ – by Abdul Nishapuri

The transport mafia (running private buses and trucks) is alleged to engineer the mismanagement of Pakistan Railways in collaboration with the Pakistan government ministers

For the last few weeks, I am experiencing mixed feelings of nostalgia, personal and collective loss, anger and frustration over the demise of Pakistan Railways under the able leadership of President Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, and the Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour.

There is a long list of trains lost to our ineffective and incapable leaders. Here are some noteworthy trains, some of which remind me of my childhood train journeys along with my parents and siblings to Lahore and Karachi.

Shalimar Express
Tezrao Express
Chiltan Express
Mehran Express
Sialkot Express

Shalimar Express (27-Up/28-Down) between Karachi Cantt and Lahore via Nawabshah, Sadiqabad, Khanewal and Raiwind.

Chiltan Express between Quetta and Faisalabad through Sibbi, Jacobabad, Dera Ghazi Khan, Kot Addu, Sher Shah, Multan Cantt, Khanewal, Shorkot and Toba Tek Singh.

Tezrao Express (5-Up/6-Down) runs between Karachi Cantt and Mardan via Rohri, Khanewal, Shorkot, Sheikhupura, Lahore, Lalamusa, Rawalpindi and Nowshera.

Mehran Express (149-Up/150-Down) runs between Karachi City and Chhor through Mirpurkhas; Sialkot Express (171-Up/172-Down) between Lahore and Rawalpindi and Sakhi Abbass (263-Up/264-Down) between Okara and Lahore. (Source: Dawn)

According to the PR sources, the income from Taiz Ro was around Rs301 million while expenditures were around Rs500 million. Similarly Chaltin’s income was around Rs220 million while expenditures was around Rs610 million, Shalimar’s income Rs490 million while expenditure on it was around Rs670 million, Mehran’s income was around Rs150 million and its expenditure was around Rs80 million and Sakhi Abbas Express’ income was Rs0.8 million while expenditures on it was around Rs90 million. (Source)

In addition to the closure of above named trains (announced on 18 July 2010), the PR has already suspended the operation of 76 trains — eight mail/express, 16 inter-city and 52 passenger. Furthermore, the suspension of operation of another 26 trains is on the cards as the state-owned organisation is constantly running into losses. These include 16 inter-city, 10 passenger and four mixed trains running on Lahore-Pakpattan-Samasata, Lahore-Jaranwala-Shorkot, Rawalpindi-Kohat, Malakwal-Khewra and Malikwal-Gharibwal sections. (Source: Dawn)

All of this is happening apparently because of financial constraints but in fact because of organizational mismanagement and a lack of will to serve the poor and middle class citizens of Pakistan. It is a sorry state of affairs!

Is transporters mafia behind closure of trains?

A few days ago (on 22 July 2010), an article was published in The Nation which suggested that transport mafia (running private buses) might be behind closure of trains. The article notes that while it took British colonialists to set up an efficient railway communication network in India hundred years but it has taken just two years for the Pakistan Railway ministry led by Ghulam Ahmed Bilour to partially damage Pakistan Railways by announcing shutting down of over 13 passengers trains including some most important express trains.

The author rightly pointed out that Mr Bilour forgets that when the British colonial power created the railway network it was not meant to be a profitable concern. It was an essential communication system which brought the country together and provided cheap, comfortable and safe transport to millions of passengers.

The author notes that there are number of departments which the government has to run in deficit to make the government function smoothly. Armed forces, police and railways are those departments which have to be run in losses because the nation needed them most.

While the PPP government has been elected with a mandate of five year term, this decision would go beyond this tenure and the Pakistani public would be sufferer for decades to come just because a government and its ministers could not make an organisation run efficiently.

Questions are already being asked why a minister from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has made the announcement. A number of conspiracy theories have already started taking shape. One among them is that it has been done to favour the road transport mafia and the trucking mafia which would be the biggest beneficiaries. They would earn billions whereas Pakistan Railways would continue to suffer losses and a time would come when the railways network in Pakistan would suffer such a damage that it would not recover from the blow dealt by the current regime of mismanagement.(Source: The Nation)

PR’s Explanation
Railways general manager Ashfaq Khattak refused to give a timetable for restoration of the suspended trains and said the organisation was facing a loss of Rs1.5 billion annually because of these trains. He said that engines of the suspended trains would be used to run freight trains as more than 60 trains were stuck at different stations because of non-availability of engines. (Source: Dawn)

However, here is another insider view of the state of affairs in the PR:

Pakistan Railways hits a new low

Only 45 per cent of the locomotives in the country are fit to run.
Pakistan Railways has hit a new low because of corrupt and incapable officers, delay in train schedule and frequent locomotive breakdowns. Only 250 of a total of 550 Pakistan Railways locomotives are fit for running, according to sources.

Officials are not inspecting the locomotives thoroughly due to them being short of trains. A proper inspection of the locomotive takes two to three hours but railway authorities are giving it only 10 to 20 minutes, which is against railway policy and could be dangerous.
According to the repair and maintenance schedule of the locomotives, the nuts and bolts of the locomotives need to be checked after travelling 500 kilometres and they need a thorough inspection after covering 1,000 kilometres.

Locomotive-shed Rohri has the capacity of housing 60 locomotives, but only 30 of those housed are in working condition. The remaining 30 are broken, according to sources.

Secretary-General of Pakistan Railways Train Drivers Association Mohammad Bux Khaki blamed the dismal condition on large-scale corruption and incapable officers, indicating that there was no lack of funds or shortage of spare parts. He said the number of officers has increased to alarming levels, over-burdening the resources of the organisation. According to him, there was no need of deputy divisional superintendent in Sukkur, despite this two deputy divisional superintendents were appointed in grade 19. He alleged that four to five employees of lower grade work at the residences of every officer instead of performing their duties at the stations. Of the 90,000 employees hired by the Railways, 50,000 have been allotted official residences, said Khaki. According to him, the only way to save the organisation from becoming a total disaster would be to stop recruitments based on favouritism and nepotism and appointment of honest and dedicated persons, who are ready to work hard. (Source: ET)

Actual State of Affairs

Trains arrive up to 14 hours late
Thursday, July 22, 2010
By M. Waqar Bhatti
Karachi

Following late arrival and departure of passenger trains, railway officials at Cantt and City stations have started refusing to provide exact information about the trains’ schedule, asking people to approach the railway minister for inquiries and lodging complaints.

“We are not sitting here to inform people and the media about trains’ schedule. If trains are late, people should not travel by them. If anybody wants to inquire about the schedule, he should approach Railway Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour,” Deputy Chief Controller Railways Atiq said when The News approached him to inquire about delays in arrival of trains.

Wednesday was perhaps the worst day for passengers and their relatives, who had turned up at the Cantt station to receive their loved ones, as most of the trains arrived 12 to 14 hours late from their scheduled timings.

Khyber Mail that was supposed to reach at 5:00 am in Karachi, arrived at 7 pm due to an engine-failure and the relatives of the passengers had to spend the entire day at the railway station waiting to receive their loved ones.

Similarly, Pakistan Express reached Karachi at around 7 pm although it is supposed to reach Karachi by early morning.

Tezgam and Awam Express were also late by 10 hour and nobody from the authorities concerned was present at the railway station to inform the people about the delays.

“The Pakistan Railway’s helpline number 117 is never attended and people have to go to the railway station to inquire about the exact schedule of trains,” Muhammad Amir, an elderly person, whose family was arriving from Wazirabad by Pakistan Express, told The News. He said that even at the railway station, officials were not willing to provide exact information about the arrival of trains and departures and people had to rely on the information provided by porters.

When The News called to the PR’s main control room at the City Station on telephone numbers 021-99213565-66 to inquire about delays, the official on the telephone said that it was not their fault that trains were arriving late.

On the other hand, people awaiting arrivals of trains at the Cantt Railway station were found cursing the government and Railway officials for causing inconvenience to them. (Source)

The issue has also been taken up by The Express Tribune which in its editorial on 22 July 2010 noted:

Train travel remains, around the world, the most popular means of commuting. This is true in our country too. The scrapping of six passenger trains, including the Shalimar Express between Lahore and Karachi, is guaranteed to cause maximum inconvenience to a very large number. In the last few years, as air travel costs have risen beyond the means of all but a few, more people have switched to trains.

For a short while, as services were improved and better checks imposed to ensure punctual departure, it had seemed rail services could find new life. These hopes have been quickly dashed. We are told financial considerations are the key factor behind the cut in train services.

The ministry has said it lacks sufficient engines to keep them running. The Pakistan Railways is backed by an extensive rail network, much of it laid down in colonial times, and has the potential for its trains to chug proudly across the country rather than falling into disrepair. Poor maintenance is said to be responsible for the collapse of some of the most newly acquired locomotives. Indeed, today, in an age of electronic trains, we should be laying new rail lines able to sustain their speed and offer quick access across the country. Instead, over the last few months we have seen more and more delays and the disruption of services, leaving people stranded.

The fact that the potential of the Railways is not even being considered is extraordinary. There should be an inquiry as to why things have been permitted to reach so sorry a state. Rather than scrapping services we need to think about how the department can be rejuvenated as a means to offer people efficient transport. We expect parliamentarians to raise this question in the National Assembly and to ask how people who cannot afford air fares are expected to travel — for business, for leisure or to see family. (Source: ET)

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Abdul Nishapuri

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  • Pakistan Railways plans ‘rationalisation’ of train operations
    July 19, 2010

    The Pakistan Railways (PR) has embarked upon an “ambitious plan of rationalization” of train operation through better use of its assets and resources.

    Railway’s General Manager (Operation) Ashfaq Khattak said in an interview on Sunday that the plan envisages gradual closure of 51 non-profitable trains and the trains running in deficit and its implementation started with the ceasing of operation of six trains.

    He maintained that the closure of these trains will bring improvement in the service of other trains which would move towards financial viability along with availability of staff, infrastructure and rolling stock.

    Explaining the rationale behind the train operation ”rationalisation plan”, Khattak pointed out that at present the Railways was facing an acute shortage of locomotives.

    He said the closure of six trains which were running in a loss, would result in sparing 16 locomotives which would be used in freight operation.

    Khattak said that this would result in a saving of Rs1.5 billion a year while the Railways will have an increase in freight revenue by Rs2.5 to Rs3 billion a year.

    He said the coaches of the trains closed down, would be used in other trains which are being operated with short rakes and this would result in an increase in the passenger capacity and a Rs1 billion annual increase in passenger revenue.

    Replying to a question, the General Manager, Railways, said that at present 150 locomotives needed repairs to make them operational and these were almost non-operational for want of spares.

    He said a proposal was under consideration to procure the required spares which would help make these engines operational.

    Khattak said that today, as against 45 to 50 operational locomotives available, the Railways needed 160 to 170 locomotives for an effective freight operation as it had the availability of cargo like fertiliser, oil, cement, Afghan transit trade etc for which it will need to operate 26 to 27 freight trains.

    He said that today the PR was carrying out loading of 800-900 wagons which constitute 13 to 14 freight trains but with the availability of 40 to 50 engines, six to seven freight trains could be run.

    Khattak explained that if a freight train is operated daily for Peshawar, it would need 10 locomotives and if an oil train is run for Multan, it would need six locomotives.

    He said that with the availability of 16 locomotives after closure of six trains, the Railways would be able to operate two oil and one container trains daily.

    Khattak pointed out that one oil train daily can yield a revenue of Rs900 million a year.

    He said at present the Pakistan Railways was operating 117 trains consuming 70 engines and out of them 60 trains are producing an annual revenue of Rs730 million while an oil train, consuming six engines, was producing a revenue of Rs900 million a year. (Source: The News)

  • PR takes no measures to retain passengers

    Monday, July 26, 2010
    By By Moayyed Jafri
    LAHORE

    THE Pakistan Railways has taken no measures to fortify or improve its capacity to accommodate or retain over 3,000 passengers spilt over into the remaining trains after suspension of six trains.

    The state of the bogies and locomotives of the PR is an open secret yet the PR management thinks that it will not lose revenue or reputation by disowning the passengers through complete absence of planning.

    The situation has added load on the existing trains such as the Karachi Express, Korakoram and others which has not only caused inconvenience for the travellers but has also amounted to extended delays of trains which are already struggling to follow the scheduled timings. The significant boost to the inter city road transport business shows that a majority of passengers have been forced to travel by road to avoid the exhaustive and inconvenient journey by rail under the existing circumstances.

    The PR has dumped over 3,000 passengers without adding any bogies to its currently operational trains, which according to the PR itself, have high occupancy. The average passenger load on the Shalimar Express alone was over 750 to 800 passengers per trip which had to be shifted to the other Karachi-bound trains from Lahore.

    The PR in its policy behind the suspended trains mentioned that the insufficient passenger load of these trains did not generate even 50 percent of their running cost. This infers that the trains which are being kept operational are generating more than 50 percent of their running cost due to a higher passenger volume.

    The Lahore Railways Station for the past one month has been giving the look of an IDP camp with hundreds of passengers and their families camped in the waiting hall and on the platform waiting for the trains which have been running late for over 8 to 10 hours or more.

    The PR administration has stated that it has suspended the trains to boost its freight operations which are more profitable.

    However, sources have revealed that the measure has been brought about due to the lack of locomotives as the majority of them are out of order.

    It has been over a week yet the freed locomotives have not been put to use for the freight operations as vowed by the PR authorities. A majority of people believe that these engines, freed through the suspension of trains, should have been employed to set its disarrayed schedule aright. There was no facility or guidance extended by the PR to the customers of the suspended trains and the information regarding the suspension too was given out in the most unprofessional and haphazard manner.

    Pakistan Railways Workers Union Chairman Manzoor Razi and (PREM) Union (CBA) Lahore Division Vice-President Sheikh Muhammad Anwar, however, had a different view of the situation and they said that all the suspension of trains was a result of the corrupt management which had staged a loco crisis for corruption in connivance with the road transport mafia.

    PR Assistant General Manager Traffic Khalid Amin while commenting on this issue said that there was no need for any special guidance or information system regarding the suspension of trains as people who went for reservation would find out themselves. He went on to say that there was no need to take any measure for the retention of the 3,000 passengers as they would not under any condition resort to road transport as they were loyal rail travellers.

    http://www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=252861

  • Pakistan Railways: a crash in the making

    Friday, 23 Jul, 2010

    If the current mismanagement of the national train service continues, more news of trains being halted would come.—File photo
    PAKISTAN
    CJ vows zero tolerance to corruption
    CJ vows zero tolerance to corruption
    Since this parliament came into being after the February 2008 general elections, the lower house has met 23 times. And having covered it throughout I am hard pressed to recall a session in which the railways’ ballooning losses and mismanagement were not brought up.

    Indeed, this is one train crash that we are all witnessing. Such is the scale of the mess, in fact, that some sane minds sitting in the lower house have even suggested a special meeting of the entire National Assembly to discuss Pakistan Railways.

    And while that specifically devoted session is yet to happen, it can safely be said that the sorry affairs at the Pakistan Railways has consumed most of the incumbent National Assembly’s question-hour sessions.

    And every time, be it the federal minister for railways, Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, or the state minister, Afzal Sindhu, have assured the house that they were working hard to improve the organisation’s operations.

    However, so far, nothing has changed; Pakistan Railways continued to run into losses worth billions of rupees — so much so that it is increasingly shutting down its operations on its various routes.

    The last week was really bad in this regard. The Pakistan Railways’ management announced the suspension of six more inter-city train services a few days ago.

    Over five dozen passenger train services now stand still, a move that Railways officials say was necessary to save Rs1.5 billion a year. And when an organisation is suffering annual losses of Rs23 billion, every billion counts.

    But even more serious is the information disclosed by sources that if the current mismanagement of the national train service continues, more such news of trains being halted would follow.

    Agreed that this is a mess that has been in the making for quite some time; in the previous regime of General Pervez Musharraf, generals in the railways’ management were accused of making money by selling prime property of the organisation at throwaway prices.

    The decision to import locomotives from China by a general, in fact, remained a heated exchange during the days of Musharraf as it was generally said that the former had received massive kickbacks.

    So serious were the concerns that the parliament was forced to take notice. In fact, one of the two special committees formed by the National Assembly is on railways, headed by the little known PPP legislator Nadeem Afzal Gondal.

    The other is the Mian Raza Rabbani led Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms. Even though the one on constitutional reforms was constituted later than the one on railways, it has come up with the historic 18th constitutional amendment. The committee on railways, on the other hand, is yet to come up with its findings.

    Raja Mohammad Asad Khan of the PML-N, whose efforts in the parliament led to the constitution of this special committee on railways says that it has held the required meetings and now the members are waiting for the final report. According to Mr Khan, the committee has found four former military generals guilty of wreaking havoc with the railways.

    The Royal Palm Country Club in Lahore, which has been built on railways land in complete violation of laws, is a case in point. Khan believed that if the committee’s report was prepared on the true findings, many guilty individuals would be unmasked and that this may help the organisation check its losses. But in the meantime the information that came to light during the meeting was startling.

    During one sitting, it was revealed that instead of retrieving over 4,000 acres of land — that is currently under illegal occupation – Pakistan Railways continues to lease more of its land throughout the country.

    At present, over 3,000 acres of PR’s land is under illegal occupation by individuals, whereas, more than 1,000 acres have been occupied by various provincial and federal governments departments. The total area of the encroached railways land is 4,231 acres.

    Interestingly, a major chunk of the railway land under illegal occupation is located in Lahore where the organisation is struggling to free 1,839 acres from land grabbers. Other cities where the PR is eyeing its land which had been gobbled include — 333 acres in Quetta, 246 in Karachi, 238 in Sukkur, 212 in Multan, 169 in Peshawar and 35 in Rawalpindi.

    During a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly, it was revealed that PR officials were involved in the black market; according to one account, the entire scrap market in Lahore flourishes on material stolen from the railway stores. However, the main issue remains that of land.

    A government study dating back to the 2003-2004 claims that if managed well, the land assets of the railways can earn it billions of rupees annually.

    But, it seems no one has paid heed to this advice. Only land or rather the family silver is being sold to keep trains running. But Mr Bilour has predicted that more such announcements may follow in the near future if the government does not provide a bail out package.

    All this becomes more tragic when viewed in the contest of the state-owned railway service in India. India’ far bigger network runs at a profit.

    Lalu Prasad Yadav, an Indian politician from the state of Bihar, during his stint as minister for Indian Railways from 2004-2009, brought a real turn around in the organisation. Perhaps his achievements are something which Mr Bilour should take a page out of.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/12-pakistan+railways+a+crash+in+the+making–bi-03

  • Pak Railway to shut special trains
    Submitted 8 hrs 28 mins ago
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    After shutting down of 6 passengers trains, the Pakistan Railway has decided to stop the services of 19 special trains. According to a private TV channel, no special train would be run on the occasion of the mela of Sewan Sharif this year, adding special train would be run from Rori to Sewan. Sources further said that the decision regarding running special trains on the occasion of Eid would be taken in view of the situation. Chief Commercial Manager, Pakistan Railway while talking to a private TV channel said that the decision has been taken due to shortage of engines. He said that additional bogies would be added but no special train be run. According to the channel, Pakistan Railways runs 19 special trains on 16 different special events including Eid and people travel on these trains to meet their loved ones.

    http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Islamabad/26-Jul-2010/Pak-Railway-to-shut-special-trains

  • when you go to the railway station,you will not able to reserve/get the seat because all seats already finished/booked,but train is getting loss, this is due to inefficieny/over expanditure of railway authorites.I think time has come pppp govt. shall think seriouly about this issue and this problem be solved in best possible ways on immediate basis.Here Nationa highway authority is there,but its manadate is to collect the toll tax from whole country but build the roads in punjab only.

  • Something needs to be done about this. The steps being taken by the Railway ministry are shady and clearly not aimed at resolving the problem. PIA has overhauled and pulled each and every single aircraft it owns into service and turned an operating profit this year.

    It seems that the ANP minister at the helm of railway is indulging in worst sort of political patronizing of its vote bank.

  • Railways to hike fares, reduce train services

    * Subsidies on Lahore-Rawalpindi, Lahore-Multan routes eliminated

    * Half of all railway commercial carriages out of order

    By Zeeshan Javaid

    ISLAMABAD: Due to mounting financial losses and non-availability of rail engines, the Pakistan Railways has decided to discontinue more special passenger trains and to end subsidies on fares.

    Sources in the Ministry of Railways told Daily Times that Pakistan Railways (PR) was unable to either purchase new rail engines or repair old ones due to a severe shortage of funds. Therefore, PR has decided to ground many special trains.

    The special train service from Lahore to Sehwan Sharif for the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar festival will not run this year. The decision on special Eid trains will be taken later.

    PR has also decided to eliminate subsidies on fares of the economy class category for the train service between the Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan stations.

    The sources said that after the elimination of the subsidy, the price of an economy class ticket from Lahore to Rawalpindi would increase from Rs 220 to Rs 280, while the fare from Lahore to Multan would increase from Rs 250 to Rs 260.

    PR grounded 13 passenger trains earlier in the month, including the Chiltan Express, the Quetta-Lahore train, the Mehran Express, the Mirpur Khas-Hyderabad train, the Tezrow, the Shalimar Express, the Sakhi Pal Express, the Lahore-Rawalpindi train, the Mehran Express, the Sialkot Express, the Sakhi Abbas passenger train and the Chiltan Express and the Shalimar Express.

    Source said that 12 trains, which were plying between small stations and towns in Rawalpindi, have also been closed down. “It is completely unfair, as these areas have no road links. In some areas, the trains were the only source of transportation for the people,” the sources said.

    In order to reduce losses, the sources said that the government had decided to divide PR into four commercial companies, which would have separate chief executive officers and boards of directors. “The existing board of directors is also dysfunctional, as it consists of five to six federal secretaries, who find it hard to meet at a specific time due to their official commitments”, the sources said. However, senior railways officials are opposed to the proposals.

    Out of order: “Of a total 16,433 carriages, 8,000 are currently out of order”, the sources said.

    The PR Carriage Factory has the responsibility of repairing these carriages. However, sources said the factory was unable to repair the carriages due to shortage of funds and skilled manpower. PR has decided to import 530 carriages from China. The department earlier imported 1,300 carriages from China as well.

    On the other hand, PR’s engine fleet is also grounded after the Chinese company that manufactured them rejected all warranty claims. The US government has offered the PR a $400 million loan to purchase 150 engines.

    The Pakistan Railways officials have written a letter to the federal government, asking it to allow them to accept the loan, as they were in “a desperate situation”. However, so far the federal government has not approved the offer.

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20107\27\story_27-7-2010_pg7_12

  • This explanation is in order.

    Reply sought from Pak Railways over closure of trains
    Published: July 27, 2010
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    LAHORE – Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif on Monday sought reply from the Pakistan Railways chairman and general manager on a petition, till August 4, challenging the decision to close six trains.
    The court passed the orders on a petition filed by Vice President Railways Workers Union Rana Shaukat Ali in which he submitted that Railways had decided to close six trains including Mehran Express, Sialkot Express, Sakhi Abbas Passenger, Taiz Rao, Chiltan Express and Shalimar Express against interests of the passengers.
    He submitted it was duty of Pakistan Railways to provide travel facilities to masses but the department snatched important facility from the already deprived people.
    He submitted as a result of this decision many employees would also become jobless.
    He prayed the court to set aside the decision. After hearing the petitioner’s counsel’s arguments, the court sought reply from the railway authorities and adjourned the hearing till August 4.

    http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Regional/Lahore/27-Jul-2010/Reply-sought-from-Pak-Railways-over-closure-of-trains

  • Pak Railways bureaucracy is extremely large and it needs to be cut by 75% .. .Railways has basically become a means of political patronage.

    Also, in this day and age, when even beggars in Pakistan are carrying cellphones, how hard is it to give the train engineer a “company mobile” with the only stipulation that he is to text the time and location of the train every time entering or leaving a station along with the ETA all this info can be cataloged on a simple sms type website which people can check to find out the ETA of any given train.

    But since this solution is too cheap and has no chance of someone skimming 50% off of a silly 400 million dollar project, no-one in the bureaucracy will take it seriously.

    So much for “degree holders” running the show!

    Even if the govt doesn’t want to do it, how about a private company doing the same? and charging a small fee for that knowledge.

  • 90% of the Pak Railway “officers” are the good for nothing HADD HARAM children of the big shot bureaucrats and chamcha’s of politicians.

    These people need to be fired ‘ba yak jumbish-e- Qalam’ (at the very least) if not tried and imprisoned for squandering a national resource.

    This railway network was profitable, had better maintained fleet and was a strategic asset in the 1890’s than it is today. SHAME SHAME SHAME on Pakistan Railways bureaucracy and the so called “political” and ‘army” masters of this institution. They have ruined this nation!

  • Shame on every citizen of pakistan for choosing these amazing leaders for our country!
    Tch i wish i wasnt from pakistan but my heart cries coz i m too patriotic for my country!
    tch tch!!!!!

  • http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/44-about-120-trains-to-be-closed-within-two-years-fa-09

    About 120 trains to be closed in two years

    LAHORE: After talks with Pakistan Railway officials on Wednesday, the Parliament Standing Committee for Railways approved the closure of 120 trains within two years.

    The trains will be closed in sequence as 102 of the trains were facing complete fiscal losses.

    In a news briefing in Lahore, the Head of the Railways Standing Committee, Ayaz Sadiq, and General Manager Railways, Ashfaque Khattak said that resources from the halted trains will be transfered to cargo trains, which deliver oil to IPPs.

    “Forty trains are giving profit of Rs.9 billion whereas more than 100 trains will be closed because of annual loss of Rs. 10 billion.”

    Sadiq also urged the government to waive its debts because Pakistan Railways was facing debts worth Rs.50 billion.

    Khattak also said that the railways had shipment for 26 cargo trains and Rs.17 billion could be earned but due to shortage of engines it was not possible to do so. – DawnNews

  • The present railway minister in collobartion with his relatives from khyber pakhtoonkhawa who form majority of transport mafia has brought pakistan railways tothis condition

  • 90% of the Pak Railway “officers” are the good for nothing HADD HARAM children of the big shot bureaucrats and chamcha’s of politicians

  • I want to know the railway inquiry no.of Lahore railway station other than 117.How to connect said railway inquiry through mobile outside lahore?

  • To bring the Pakistan Railways out of the current quagmire and to turn it into a profitable business organization, drastic changes are required. Some of the suggested changes are presented in the following. These changes would be difficult to implement at the outset under the prevailing political and social climate in Pakistan. But in my opinion, with a firm resolve, a clear-cut direction, a persistent effort and a consistent approach that are absolutely essential for this task, a turnaround can undoubtedly be achieved and the Railway can once again be a valuable asset for Pakistan..

    1. Pakistan Railways should be operated as a business and not as an institution. It should concentrate only on its core function i.e. to provide a safe, reliable, efficient and cost effective transport service to passengers and goods.
    All its non-core activities (i.e. not directly related to running of trains), such as owning and managing hospitals, dispensaries, schools, providing employee accommodations, hostels, canteens, and discount stores etc., should be handled completely separately from its core function, or simply given up by out-sourcing to those who are experts in their respective fields.
    In earlier days, many locations served by the Railways were rural in nature, where such facilities were not available and so the Railways provided them for their employees. However, now most of these locations have developed into urban areas, and such facilities (particularly hospitals, schools and discount stores) are provided by government bodies or private enterprises and are now available for public at large, and should not be duplicated or supplemented any more by the Railways.

    2. Pakistan Railways should be run from top-down, by carrier railroaders and without any political influence, affiliation, or interference. These railroaders must be competent personnel who understand the complex inter-relationship of various disciplines (such as civil, mechanical, electrical and telecommunications engineering, transportation, safety, economics, accounting, business administration, human relations, industrial relations, labor relations, etc, to name some of them) that comprise a modern railway. Anyone placed in the top echelon of the Railways who is naïve to its intricate operation, would continue to cause the fiasco that is being seen at present time.

    3. Though corruption seems to be everywhere in Pakistan, it is said to be particularly rampant in the Railways. Some of the examples appear to be bribery in seeking employment, nepotism, political appointments, misappropriation of funds, kickbacks in contracting, purchasing and construction, in ticket sales and ticket-less travels, pilferage of customers’ goods and railway property, receipt/ disbursement of salaries of non-existent employees and collecting pensions of deceased pensioners, forging information/ records of work progressed or completed, making personal use of railway employees, equipment (such as vehicles) and property (such as inappropriate use of railway dwellings and rest houses), other forms of graft and so on.
    Corruption needs to be tackled at all levels and in all areas. Railways should adopt a no-tolerance policy to deal with this terrible affliction i.e. anyone caught and charged with corruption must be summarily dismissed from the Railways service. Stringent enforcement of this policy would be necessary to yield fruitful results.

    4. Present Pakistan Railways’ organization should be reviewed and streamlined in terms of the reporting relationships between and among different Divisions, Departments, Production Units and Headquarters Office. Similarly the role of the Railway Board with respect to Pakistan Railways as well with respect to PRACS and RAILCOP should also be reviewed and where necessary be modified. PRACS needs to look outwards to seek consultancy opportunities abroad particularly in Africa and Middle East. RAILCOP has done good work in carrying out several projects but it needs to better the quality of its end product.
    The current Pakistan Railway’ establishment (i.e. persons employed, 83,868 in 2009-2010) is inordinately huge in regards to other railways of the World when the comparison is made with respect to the size of its network. The size of its establishment should be reduced significantly by attrition, by preventing duplicated, superfluous and wasteful efforts, by combining and re-aligning certain activities, out-sourcing non-operational activities, and by introduction of less labor involving technologies and adopting railways’ best practices. Where possible the layers of management should be reduced. In general, the decisions should be made at the levels to which they belong and not passed on to other levels.
    The first line supervisors should be empowered to make decisions on matters that directly affect their work and their workers. They should also be allowed to participate in decision making process that would influence the overall destiny of the Pakistan Railways by encouraging their input. They would contribute invaluable ideas for betterment of the Railways. This would inculcate greater sense of involvement, commitment, responsibility, and dedication in employees towards the Railways which are so demoralized under the present conditions.

    5. Pakistan Railways’ functioning should be open and transparent. Each railway position should be justifiable and should have a written job description that clearly spells out duties, responsibilities and challenges of that particular position. Performance of the employee should be appraised (and rated such as whether his/ her performance was excellent, exceeded expectations, satisfactory, below satisfactory or poor etc.) periodically in accordance with his/ her job description and from this necessary feedback should be provided to the employee along with appreciative, corrective or other remarks and any remunerative award. The process should be vivid, frank, fair, and impartial, and should be fully documented. The appraisals should be carried out at least once a year and more often if deemed necessary and conducted by the employee’s immediate supervisor, if possible, in the presence of other superiors and with a representative of personnel department. Promotions/ demotions/ other necessary actions should be the natural consequences of this process and upon successful completion of any mandatory training requirements.

    6. Pakistan Railways should make concerted efforts to achieve added productivity, safety, reliability, and efficiency gains, cost effectiveness and on-time train performance through introduction of more computer based technologies in the areas of resource (i.e. labor, material, equipment and fixed property etc.) management, planning and programs developments, engineering and operational analyses, train control and car tracking systems, accident prevention, infrastructure condition monitoring, budgeting, accounting, statistical data bank and various record keeping activities etc. Understandably, some work has been carried out in stores inventory management, payrolls and statistics, however, much work is needed in many other areas.

    7. Safety of public, employees, operation and property in that order should be paramount aspect of any railway organization. Major accidents such as at Sahiwal – Sept. 1957, Liaqatpur – Aug. 1972, Sukkur – Jan. 1990, Khanewal – March 1997, Jhang – Dec. 1997, Wah Cantt. – Sept. 1999, Ghotki – July 2005, Mehrabpur – Dec. 2007, and Gujar Khan – Nov. 2008 that not only resulted in much loss of innocent lives but also caused considerable damage and disruption. These are reported in the news media. However, there are many other accidents that do happen but are not reported or investigated and thus are not known to the public.
    Railways must report and adequately investigate all accidents whether they are major, medium or minor in nature, to determine their causes and to take necessary measures to prevent their reoccurrences. Railways should publish its accident statistics by different categories (i.e. damage, lost time, injury, fatality etc; train, shop, yard, worksite, office etc; type of injury: head, eye, hand, foot, back, leg etc.) on a regular basis, and make this information available for the benefit and use of the interested parties.

    8. Several railway assignments are quite stressful. Of particular mention are those which involve encountering hazards frequently, working protracted hours without proper rest, often required staying away from their homes, addicted to substance use, receiving ambiguous directions and of course work places where complacency reins. These situations could exist any where; however, they are experienced more in operating and shop areas of the railway and result in many accidents.
    Pakistan Railways has done a great deal to provide welfare to its employees. More could be done in this aspect to relieve the work related stress by providing rest areas, recreational facilities and improving the working conditions at the outpost locations.

    9. Railways are operating in a very competitive environment all over the world. Their competition is with other modes of transportation for goods and passengers, particularly, with trucks and buses respectively. This competition is inevitable. The competitors’ better performance should not be used to find excuses but should be considered as an opportunity and as a challenge and to gear up for better quality of service. Therefore, Pakistan Railways’ business unit should be very aggressive. Railways have an obvious advantage of long and mass haul of goods. Railways are also environmentally friendly (less carbon emissions) and relatively cost effective. However, they provide station (terminal) to station service and cannot provide door to door service (as is often preferred by the customers) like trucks unless the Railways has intermodal capability of its own. The Railways, therefore should builds up partnerships with trucking outfits to enable its customers a door to door service.
    Another aspect of marketing is to reach out to the customers and meet them on a regular basis to discuss customers’ concerns about Railways’ service and seek their feedback/ input for improving the service. Similarly, for passengers, to attract them, group travel package and mid-week travel rates should be instituted at discount fares. The Railways employees at the front-end should be well informed, helpful and courteous to the customers. Sometimes, they need to go out of their way to assist / entertain customers to attract or maintain the business.
    Railways should work on better image building as well by regularly advertising in the media, about the services it provides and about the advantages of its services to its customers in comparison to other modes of transportation. Of course these would have to be backed up simultaneously with much improvement in the quality of its service.
    Furthermore, all services provided and all verbal and written communications made with the public and the employees should be in the national language (Urdu) and in the local language of the region (Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, Pushto and others). As majority of Pakistanis do not understand or speak English, English should be used in addition to other languages, but only at the main railway centres.

    10. Pakistan Railways network in terms of its route-kilometres (8557 in 1947 versus 7791 in 2010) has in fact decreased since independence. This is primarily due to abandonment of the narrow gauge lines. Similarly, its total track-kilometres (12,135 in 1947 versus 11,713 in 2010) have also reduced since independence. The other changes to the network have been in terms of spurs, sidings, links and doubling of track etc.
    Over the past sixty-four years, Pakistan has gone through tremendous change in its demography (35 million inhabitants West Pakistan in 1947 versus 175 million inhabitants in 2010). Many rural areas have grown into sprawling urban commercial centres. These offer numerous service opportunities for Pakistan Railways. Consequently the Railways should develop a comprehensive plan to tap these businesses by expanding its network to those areas that are currently not being served by it.
    Pakistan Railways should also earnestly take a leading role in encouraging the municipalities for development of rail transit systems (somewhat similar to the Karachi Circular Railway, surface or underground) for larger cities in Pakistan (such as Lahore, Rawalpindi-Islamabad and Faisalabad now and Hydrabad, Peshawar, Multan and Quetta in future) connecting them with Pakistan Railways’ respective stations to provide convenient access for traveling public. This will effectively deal with congestion issues in cities and help augment Railways’ rider ship and revenues.

    11. Pakistan Railways should further facilitate development of trade with the neighboring countries by improving traffic flow on the existing segments i.e. Wagah – Attari with India and Tafton – Zaidan with Iran and by setting up intermodal terminals at Torkham and Chaman for trucking goods between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Similarly, possibility of a second rail link to India should be explored via Khokhrapar – Monabao or Bathinda. Through these links access could be sought to the networks of other railways (i.e. Asian Railway). Active participation is essential in today’s global trade market for survival and Pakistan cannot afford to remain isolated.

    12. Pakistan Railways seems to have many material storage locations (i.e. stores) scattered all over its network. They represent a huge outlay of tied-up funds in terms of material, manpower, equipment and real estate. They also encourage pilferage, add storage costs and result in loss of material due to expiry shelf life, due to deterioration over time and due to obsoleteness. Consequently, the stores locations should be reorganized by reducing their number and maintaining at strategic locations only and equipped well for loading/ unloading and forwarding (by rail or truck) capabilities very expeditiously.
    Consideration should also be given, where possible, to have the purchased materials shipped directly from the vendor to the Railways user (i.e. office/ shop/ construction site to avoid double handling, storage cost and associated problems).

    13. Pakistan Railways owns prime real estate in almost all localities in the country. The management of this real estate needs to be re-vamped and it should be better organized with a view of drawing the optimum benefits based upon its real market value. There are many places that have been illegally encroached upon or occupied for years by some people. It is also said that land plots have been given free or sold at ridiculous prices to the people under the eyes of Railways officials. These issues should be addressed and illegally or unfairly obtained real estate needs to be relinquished back to the Railways. This real estate is a national asset just as the entire Pakistan Railways is and it must be preserved and put to reserving use. The Railways should not sell its real estate to anyone. It should only lease/ rent its land for a fixed period of time to others for developmental purposes.

    14. The right-of-way of Pakistan Railways is extremely unsightly at many if not at most of the places. Trash and garbage is thrown and left there to rot and create obnoxious smell and unhealthy conditions for the passengers, the railway employees and for those living or working close to the Railways. Human excretion from the toilets in the coaches is simply dropped on the tracks. It portrays a despicable image for the Railways. The engineering staff of the Railways has not helped in this matter either as the used and reject railway material is also left scattered all over the right-of-way that is rotting rusting and deteriorating and at times blocking streams and hindering proper drainage of the right-of-way. As a responsible organization, the Railways should improve this situation. All the unwanted and undesirable stuff should be picked up and moved away from the right-of-way. All new or recyclable material (if required at a site), should be stored in well arranged piles so they do not form filthy and ugly sites. A stringent policy should be adopted to maintain the right-of-way tidy and orderly. Railways police can play its part in keeping the surveillance and anyone violating and causing this problem, whether it is a railway employee or an adjacent resident, should be prosecuted and duly fined and even forced to have the litter removed at his own cost.

    15. Training and re-training of the officers and the workers of Pakistan Railways is very important for performing their jobs in safe, productive and proficient manner and in order to keep themselves abreast of what is new in their respective trades and fields. Pakistan Railways’ training centres and institutes (in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Karachi and other places) are doing good job in this respect. However, they should lay more emphasis on training of employees that are working in the operational units in comparison to those working in non-operational units. The course materials and demonstrative activities should be reviewed and revised on a continuous basis. These training centres should build collaborations with local vocational colleges and universities (such as University of Engineering and Technology), to draw benefits from their knowledge and research work. Involving Universities in conducting Railways related research could be very advantageous to Railways on two counts i.e. research is done for its application in the Railways and Railway has a possibility of employing candidates who have some prior appreciation of the Railways while being students of the University.
    The centre should invite the professionals (including academia) in different railway related fields to come to the centres and deliver lectures.
    The Railway Academy should consider developing a course on “Running a Railway Business” that would entail different aspects of railway and their inter-relationship and how these collectively affect the overall performance of the railway as a business. Such course would greatly benefit in educating the employees at all levels about working of a modern railway.

    16. The existing repair and maintenance shops and even the rehabilitation shops may be considered as essential parts of Railways operations (i.e. business of running trains). But the locomotive, coach and wagon manufacturing shops and the sleeper, bridge and track components producing factories play only supporting roles and thus in other countries these roles are performed by private industries.
    These workshops and factories should be set up as separate entities that should operate as individual self-supporting businesses. They are claimed to be laced with the most modern tools and equipment. However, since their existence, they have been running well under their rated capacities and thus they are burden to the overall Railways organization.
    They should diversify their workforce, that is, when the Railways cannot provide sufficient work for them, they should obtain work from outside (acquiring work by bidding on jobs etc.) to sustain themselves or scale down their operation by cutting back their establishments and activities during sluggish periods. As an example, the Bridge Shop at Jhelum is one of the older shops that have done excellent work of fabricating spans for re-girdering of many railway bridges and it can certainly carry out structural fabrication for highway bridges and high-rise buildings.

    17. Pakistan Railways should place a complete moratorium on imports of all kinds including equipment and components that could be manufactured in its own workshops and factories or could be made by other companies in the country. Pakistan Railways workshops and factories, although they make high claims of their capabilities, have consistently produced far less than their rated capacities. Pakistan Railways should have them produce more rather than importing stuff. Shortages of locomotives, coaches and wagons is often cited as reasons for frequent breakdowns/ suspensions of train services while the rehabilitation workshops are facing slack periods of work. With better foresight, this work should be given back to where it really and rightfully belongs. It is disservice to the Railways to import equipment while its own manufacturing shops are almost idle.
    Pakistan Railways should also assist indigenous companies in setting up facilities for production of the components that the Railways requires such as rolling of steel rails by Pakistan Steel Mills, Karachi.
    The news in the media are that many train services are being cancelled due to the shortage of equipment (2010 Statistics of Ownership: Locomotives = 528; Coaching Vehicles; Passenger = 1542, other = 234, Total = 1,776 and Freight Wagons = 16,499). Further, only 50-60 locomotives are currently operational and the rest are awaiting parts for repairs. In such dire situation, these locomotives should be cannibalized to make at least 50% of them (say 260) operational. This task should be treated as a top priority to alleviate the difficulties and sufferings being faced by the traveling public.

    18. Railways pension system needs to be revamped and its viability should be determined as to who is contributing to it and how this system is going to be supported and, for how long, this system could be supported under the present tight monetary conditions. A thorough review should be undertaken of the system and all irregularities be rectified and all illegal beneficiaries should be removed from the list of recipients. Thought should be given to setting up a permanent pension fund that is secure and its amount should be invested for growth so the future need of the pensioners could be met without difficulty. The fund should be operated by the management with the co-operation of representatives of the retirees. Those who have given their life time of service to the Railways deserve peace of mind in their retirement.

    19. Pakistan Railways should reinforce its emergency response preparedness plan to minimize delays and disruption to its service. Emergencies occur due to unfortunate natural events such as storms, cyclones, floods, earthquakes (Quetta – 1935, Muzaffarabad – 2005), wild fires (lightning, forest), heat waves (June 2007) that could result in breaches in track (low lying areas susceptible to breaches due to flooding every two three years), washouts of culverts and bridges, embankment failures, derailments (ex: Mehrabpur – Dec. 2007); due to human errors (Sukkur – Jan. 1990) such as collisions (Ghotki – July 2005); or due to deliberate acts of vandalisms such as damage to infrastructure (ex: bridges on Sibi-Khost line damaged by bomb blasts – remain out of commission for several years) or equipment (ex: locomotives, coaches and wagons set on fire by angry mob after Bibi’s death – still remain parked in yards).
    The plan should have documented procedures and the necessary emergency stock placed at strategic locations ready to move at all times. The response team should carry out mock rehearsals periodically to ensure their readiness for all eventualities.

    20. The morale of the employees of Pakistan Railways is generally down because of its current culture, many years of Railways’ poor service performance, recurring financial losses, wide-spread corruption, outside interferences, lack of direction and guidance, and public resentment and criticism of the Railways etc. While implementing the proposed changes, it is very important, therefore, to simultaneously, initiate an earnest campaign of morale boosting. The employees should be reminded regularly about the importance of the jobs they are carrying out and how their good performance could affect the well being of their countrymen. Railways growth is not only mean their personal growth but also entire Pakistan’s growth. They should be encouraged to bring forth their ideas and thoughts on improving safety, productivity and efficiency at their worksites and the Railways at large. They should be duly appreciated, accredited and rewarded for their good performance. A sense of responsibility, ownership and pride should be inculcated in the employees, so they are happy, contended, committed and feel secure in their jobs. A motivated and rightly guided workforce can without doubt reshape the fate of its organization.

  • There is nothing known as easy money. It does not exist. I can understand if one falls for something like this out of sheer desperation. Most of the country is living well below the poverty line. You need any statistics for that. You just need to leave the house.