Making the Pakistan Railways as
an efficient system of transportation
From SHAMIM AHMED
Jul 10 - 16, 2000
An ambitious plan of action to restructure the Pakistan Railways has
been prepared aimed to restore its prestige and reputation of a comfortable and efficient
mode of travelling and transportation of goods at a comparatively much lower cost and at
the same time converting the loosing organization into a profitable venture within a
period of about 5 years.
The programme includes dualisation of 880 KM track ensuring double
track from Peshawar to Karachi, purchase of new locomotive and renovation of existing
stocks, introducing fast passenger and goods trains and improving in operating standard.
The necessary finance will be jointly arranged by the government, Railways' own resources
and foreign assistance and loans. Railways has been authorised to sell huge areas of land
owned by it or construct commercial plazas in partnership with private sector on its
prized land scattered all over the country.
Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf who presided over a meeting on
Railway affairs in Lahore pledged to restore the Pakistan Railways as an efficient system
of transportation in the country and said that it can achieve its old standard of
efficiency and discipline by reorientation, modifications and planning to bring it on par
with other modern railway systems in the world. The Chief Executive said at the briefing
on the plight of the Pakistan Railways that almost all departments of national importance
had been drifted towards collapse due to negligence. Stating that he could see a silver
lining, Gen. Pervez Musharraf said improvements are there and more are needed to turn the
railways into a viable, efficient, safe and comfortable mode of transportation system. He
directed that all necessary steps should be taken for making railways a modern and
comfortable travelling service for the common man. Chief Executive announced a Rs. 44
billion special package to revive the railways. Addressing Pakistan officers at the
Pakistan Railways (PR) headquarters, the CE said Rs.4 billion would be released to the
railways on emergency basis to improve its sets and performance. A sum of Rs. 40 billion
had been approved in principal for the completion of long-term projects to be released to
the PR in phases.
The meeting also decided to shelve the idea of total privatization of
Pakistan Railways. It was decided that Pakistan Railways would follow Swedish railway
model in which all infrastructure is property of the state while for passenger and freight
business a mix of public and private sector participations. It was felt that total
privatization of Pakistan Railways is neither feasible nor it can be worked out. "A
blend of the public and private participation was found to be most suitable for Pakistan
under the given circumstances.
In persuance of the policy decisions taken at the meeting the railway
have initiated a number of measure to achieve the desired targets. It has moved a summary
to the Chief Executive Secretariat for dualisation of 880-kilometre track with an
estimated cost of Rs.35.3 billion. The summary has been completed in three months time by
involving experts from the Railways department, an official at the Railways Ministry told
The track from Karachi to Lodhran (843-kilometre) is already dualised
while the remaining lane from Lodhran to Peshawar (843-kilometre) will be dualised in two
phases during the next 5/6 years.
He was of the firm view that the double track will give a big boost to
the organisation's performance and bring it at par with road transport in terms of time
factor. In the first phase, he explained, rail-track from Lodhran to Lalamusa
(550-kilometre) will be dualised and in the second phase lane from Lalamusa to Peshawar
(330-kilometre) will be doubled. The cost will be Rs.28 billion and Rs.7.3 billion
respectively. The official said the cost of the project could be substantially reduced if
army is involved in the project.
Secretary Railways Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Javed Ashraf is in Ukraine, these
days to explore the possibility of Ukraine's cooperation in Pakistan Railways' two-year
emergency repair plan and five-year rehabilitation plan. In the meantime, a technical team
led by Maintenance and Services General Manager Maj. General Butt (Retd) is leaving for
China next week on a similar mission.
Following the imposition of sanctions by the G-8 countries, Pakistan
Railways maintenance and repair works went by default resulting in deterioration of
services for which no assistance was coming from those countries which had assisted in
setting up locomotive factory and carriage factory.
However, China and Ukraine offered their assistance in carrying out the
nearly Rs.45 billion Railway rehabilitation programmes. Preliminary discussions with both
the countries have taken place by the Railways authorities and the visits of the Pakistani
officials will bring forward the prospects of mutual cooperation.
Sources informed PAGE that the Railways secretary would examine the
facilities Ukraine could offer to meet Pakistan Railways needs in respect of the emergency
plan and rehabilitation programme. During his visit, he would also study the compatibility
of the railway system with the Pakistan Railways. The sources further said the technical
mission going to China would undertake the same exercise but with more insight into the
railway systems. The technical system would study the railway system including
locomotives, coaches, wagons, signaling, telecommunication facilities and operational
system and hold discussions with the Chinese authorities and Chinese bank in regard to
funding of the programme.
By the time the technical team returns from China, Railway secretary
would have returned from Ukraine. In the light of the discussions with Ukraine
authorities, the technical team would go to Ukraine for examining the compatibility of the
two railway systems and how Ukraine could cooperate with Pakistan in this field.
During Pakistan-China ministerial talks, the secretary had sought
Chinese cooperation in regard to Railways rehabilitation plans. Later the representative
of the Chinese from Dong Fang Corporation visited Pakistan and invited Pakistanis to visit
The emergency plan costing Rs.4 billion envisages nine projects, which
include: Rehabilitation and improvement of track on Pakistan Railways (emergency
Investment Plan 1999-2000 to 2000-2001).
Modification of redundant 320 tank wagons and provision of essential
assemblies, for 680 freight wagons and other tools and equipment for maintenance of
Re-commissioning of 60 diesel electric locomotives.
Replacement of U-style block instrument on
Improving telecommunication facilities on Pakistan railways.
Replacement of breakdown cranes and procurement of relief train.
Procurement/rehabilitation of plant and machinery for C&W shops.
Fitment of air-brakes to 574 freight wagons.
The Rs. 40.7 billion five-year rehabilitation programme comprises the
Procurement of 69 diesel locomotives of 2000/3000
Rehabilitation of 36 GMU-30 diesel locomotives.
Replacement of 29 electric locomotives.
Rehabilitation of 450 passenger coaches.
Procurement/manufacture of 175 passenger coaches including transfer of
Conversion of 100 economy/second class coaches into lower AC.
Manufacture of 50 bogies including transfer of technology.
Procurement/manufacture of 220 high capacity wagons.
Rehabilitation of track.
Doubling of track.
Electric works(replacement of power supply system catenary wire
sub-station equipment and electrical wiring).
Improvement of telecommunication facilities.
Rehabilitation and improvement of signaling works.
In the meanwhile through internal tightening of control and improving
operational efficiency the new railways management has succeeded in curtailing its
operational losses from over Rs. 5 billion to Rs. one billion annually ad they hope to
make it break even the next financial year. The General Manager Railways in a press
interview said that goods carriage capacity has been significantly improved.- Previously
it was under utilised.