IMPORTANCE OF RAILWAYS

NOREEN AMJAD & MUHAMMAD REHAN
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Oct 29 - Nov 4, 20
12

Railways and roadways are the two means of transport over the land. Roads can be built in the hilly areas also whereas railway lines cannot be laid easily. The railways have advantage over the roadways that they can carry a large number of passengers and large and heavy loads to long distances. Also journey by train is more comfortable than by bus.

Urban cities came up with importance of railways and railways stations in particular. Moreover, unlike other industries which become modern over a period of time, railways changed technology at a much faster scale. It bought distant towns closer to mainstream cities and helped big time in commerce.

Pakistan railway was founded in 1947 after the independence. At the time of independence railway has 8,122 km of tracks. Pakistan had very good railway infrastructure at that time that was built by Britain. Pakistan railway was running very successfully and saving lots of money for the economy. Railway had added some new tracks and also started electric powered railway tracks for some areas.

Pakistan railway was degrading from last decade but after formation of this government; railway has stopped completely and now few trains can be seen on tracks. Still railway has more than 80,000 employees. Despite of many bailout packages; railway was not able to come out of this disastrous situation. No one is Pakistan is serious to restore this national assets as it can work as a life line for Pakistan's economy.

Pakistan Railway is mainly suffering from following problems

* No Government Attention
* Shortage of Advanced & efficient locomotives
* Mismanagement
* Single way railway tracks
* Non-availability of latest maintenance techniques
* Corruption
* Lobbies whose interests clashes with prosperity of railway

Here we will discuss the benefits of using the trains and especially electric powered trains over the road transport. A train normally having the engine o f 2,000 to 2,500 HP can pull 750 ton of load. The train is usually carrying the load of 20 trailer and tankers because the trailer and tankers normally seen on road can carry maximum 37~38 ton of load.

The efficiency of railway engines are around 20~30% based on their model and make while the efficiency of latest power plant ranges from 45% to 50%. This shows that if the trains are run on electric power than we can get 15~20% efficient operation.

Now we will calculate the expense for transportation of 750 tons of freight for 1,000 km by all three sources. For the transportation of this load, 20 trucks or tankers will be needed that will cover 1.5 km for each liter of diesel. So the total 13,333 liter diesel will be consumed that will cost 1.26 Million rupees. The self powered engine train that has a 30% efficient engine will cover this journey in 20~25 hours and consumes 30,000 kWh of energy. This type of engine produces a kWh by consuming 290 gm of fuel that costs 32 rupees. So the total cost of journey will be 960,000 rupees. Similarly the electric powered train can get this power at 45% efficiency and considering the transmission losses of 2%, net efficiency will be 43%. Secondly the fuel for generation of this power will be furnace oil instead of diesel that is also cheaper. The power will be produced by 208 gm of fuel at 15.6 rupees that will complete the journey in 470,000 rupees.

There will a saving of 790,000 rupees as compared to road transport and 490,000 rupees as compared to self powered railway engines for every 1,000 km of transportation. The same figures will also apply to the passenger trains. They can also generate same amount of saving.

There are some other benefits of using the electric Powered trains

* By the reduction of oil consumption, the import bill also reduce
* Traffic on roads will reduce that will reduce the accidents
* Easy and safe transportation of goods
* Earning for the government in shape of profitable railway
* Less fuel combustion will produce less pollution
* By the reduction in green houses, Carbon credits can also be claimed

Few problems that will need to be managed for making these trains successful:

* Analyze that how much of present engines can run on electric power
* Need to purchase the new railway engines
* Estimate the need of Power Plants needed to run the railway
* Identify the location where these plants can be installed to manage minimum transmission losses
* Identify the required capacity of power plant at different locations
* Will government be able to install and operate these plants? Otherwise IPPs can be called for this operation
* Make arrangement to control the theft of electricity from the electricity lines
* Make arrangement to avoid any electrocution incidents
* Can call private train companies that can use the system and provide both freight and passenger services
* How to manage the lobbies (tanker mafia) that will never want the railway to thrive

Following are the some benefits for passengers travelling in train

* Relaxed Journey (Can work / study / enjoy the scenery)
* Safety
* Security
* Can travel at night
* Low Cost Transportation
* Meeting with Friends

There are some other options that can make money for the railway

* Utilization of Land owned by Railway for lease purposes
* Develop housing colonies on its barren lands
* Building its own hotels & restaurants
* Railway has high level hospital in big cities; medical colleges can be made with these hospital to earn money
* Growing of plants along railway tracks that can produce Bio-Diesel

The transportation by train is very much used by whole world and it is saving millions of dollars. Hopefully someday our government will put attention on restoration of railway.