Pak railways heading for a breakdown: Report

High priced 75 China-made locomotives are blamed for putting Pak Railways in a financial crunch.

Last Updated: Jul 27, 2011, 21:03 PM IST

Islamabad: Bearing the burden of
"ill-conceived decisions", financial crunch and purchase of
costly and yet sub-standard China-made locomotives, the
Pakistan railways is heading for a breakdown, media here
reported on Wednesday.

"Ill-conceived decisions, forcefully imposed by past
bureaucrats to achieve self-serving motives, are one of the
major causes that have literally crippled Pakistan Railways...
if these flawed polices of the past were not rectified then
Pakistan Railways may even shut down in the near future," The
News daily reported today quoting Railway insiders.

The daily said insiders also blame the purchase of
allegedly high priced 75 China-made locomotives for putting
Railways in a financial crunch.

"The engines worth billions of rupees proved to be of
substandard quality," an unidentified insider was quoted as
saying.

"The operations of a large number of trains, including
passenger and freight coaches, have also come to a screeching
halt in recent times.

"Railway used to generate huge revenues through
freight services but due to non-availability of locomotives
its business has been massively affected, causing great losses
to the department whose deficit is mounting with each passing
minute," he added.

The paper said instead of rectifying past mistakes,
top officers in the department want to procure another 150
locomotives from China.

This project, worth Rs 450 million, was approved in
December 2010 by the Cabinet and Executive Committee of
National Economic Council (ECNEC).

"Going for American manufactured locomotives instead
of Chinese one`s would be better. The experience of Chinese
locomotives has dismally failed in the past.

If serious thought is not given to this issue and more
Chinese locomotives are purchased, then there is a very real
possibility that the Railways may close down in a few years,"
warned an insider.

Meanwhile, Secretary Railway Board, Shafiullah said a
"crash programme" needed to be evolved and implemented within
the next six months with the objective of reviving the sector.

"We are working on this plan," he said, adding the
department had sought the support of the federal government to
pay subsidy and resolve the matter of pensions of retired
employees," according to the report.

"In countries like China and Turkey, governments
support the Railway sector but the case is totally different
in Pakistan," Shafiullah said, adding, "When we got the
China-made locomotives we did not pay proper attention to
their repair and maintenance due to which they did not last
very long,."

"Now, if a crash reforms programme is not launched in
the next six months it will be very hard for the Railway
sector to survive much longer."

PTI