It is a classic example of a capitalist economy - one person’s loss is another person’s gain.
Driven into the arms of Pakistan Railways, passengers have helped this state-owned entity earn an additional Rs6 million on Wednesday, as PIA workers continued to disrupt operations - ironic since it is their loss-making status that is forcing the state to sell its stake in the entity in the first place.
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However, passengers’ shift to Railways has helped the entity, said its senior general manager sales Javed Anwar, and it is ready to take on the challenge.
Nearly all main Line-1 trains, including Lahore to Karachi, Karachi Express and Business Express and Rawalpindi-to-Karachi Green line train, were seen catering to an increased number of passengers from Tuesday onwards, the day PIA strike began.
“The number is not too high, it is somewhere between 500 to 600 additional passengers,” said Anwar. “However, we have made preparation to carry the additional passengers and we have plenty of reserve coaches for this purpose.
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“We are continuously monitoring the passenger traffic and are attaching additional coaches with those trains whose occupancy crosses 100%. To ensure this, we have directed all our divisions accordingly.”
Currently, two additional coaches have been attached with Karachi Express, and one with Business Express and Green Line. Normally, these trains have a total number of 15 coaches each. However, the number of coaches for green line are either reduced or increased at the Lahore railway station depending on the number of passengers in between Lahore-Rawalpindi.
Some Railways officials are anticipating increased number of passengers in the coming days due to the PIA issue. Consequently, they are hoping that Railways will earn higher revenue, at least for the next few days. Moreover, the major chunk of additional passengers is from Karachi to Lahore.
As per the Railways, Karachi Express can generate an amount of Rs2.4 million for a single trip at 100% occupancy. Similarly, Business Express can earn Rs3.2 million and Green Line can earn Rs5.4 million if operated at 100% occupancy.
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“It is a natural phenomenon; if one mode of transportation sees trouble, people will opt for the second one”, said Tariq Sikandar, travelling to Karachi from Lahore. “I have opted for the rail route since right now I cannot afford air travel ith my family. We were able to book seats comfortably,” he added.
Meanwhile, Railways is trying to work on schedule as it wishes to fully benefit from this situation.
Railways Minister Khwaja Saad Rafique, earlier on Thursday, directed the staff to make sure rail tickets were not being overcharged, punctuality of trains is ensured and to avoid any unseemly situation.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2016.
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