No trains, more pain

The decision by the Pakistan Railways (PR) to suspend six trains has deprived the vast majority of people of a cheap mode of transport.

Saba Musheer July 30, 2010

With the revival of Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) being a distant dream, the suspension of Shalimar Express and five other passenger trains have added to the miseries of commuters.

The decision by the Pakistan Railways (PR) to suspend six trains has deprived the vast majority of people of a cheap mode of transport. The timing is particularly upsetting as summer is peak traffic time with schools off and people traveling upcountry for vacations.

It is upsetting to see yet another burden dumped on the people of this country who already have to bear the brunt of rising commodity and utility prices. And frankly, they have suffered enough financial repercussions of the pathetic state of affairs and administrative confrontations by successive governments. It’s high time a decision be made on the status of the PR — whether it’s a public sector organisation or a commercial entity.

With inflation increasing at an alarming rate, inter-city bus and air fares going beyond the common person’s reach, the only relatively cheap alternative one has to travel upcountry is the railway. However, the railway authority’s argument is simple as well. They need the money and for them freight trains are more lucrative than passenger trains. And while it may be quite easy to say that passengers, as in the case of Shalimar Express, will not face any difficulty because there is Shah Shams train running on the same route, matters are not as simple as that. Do they actually know that this will further aggravate the problem as their trains are already in a pitiful state and excess load on them will make the situation even worse? The Shah Shams has around 10 to 12 bogies and adding the passengers of Shalimar Express to it would not only increase commuter traffic but may also further deteriorate its already poor service.

Is closure/suspension of trains the right solution to the so-called ‘losses’ of the PR? Will they be able to recover their losses now?

Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2010.

Saba Musheer A Karachi based journalist who manages the Sunday pages of The Express Tribune.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


danish omer zuberi | 11 years ago | Reply Sir, the picture appearing on the blog has a train with something written in hindi script on the engine's masthead. It would have been more appropriate if the writer or the organisation had taken the pain of using a photograph of Karachi Cantonment or the Karachi City Railway instead of googling and copy paste.
sultan | 12 years ago | Reply S. A. Raza may have missed my point, sir, I only wanted to say that we are responsible for the corrupt Railway Minister and the Government by electing them to these offices. And I somewhat agree with Think Before and want people of Pakistan to be more sensible while casting their votes. Railway People at present responsible for decision making are all hand picked and won't go against what the minster wants. Minister wants only 'money' no matter at what (National) expense it comes. He is making deals (Direct Deals) and partnerships with all the suppliers and vendors. All the Ministers are doing this, you will be surprised to know that Federal ministers are not even refusing Rs. 100,000/- share in supplies. At the end who voted these ugly faces to power, you and me. My question is why you complain then?
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