Railways receives defective locomotives from Chinese firm

Will replace 16 newly inducted locomotives that have ‘under-frame cracks’

PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

LAHORE:


Pakistan Railways is going to replace 16 newly inducted locomotives brought from China-based CSR Ziyang Locomotives Co Limited after engineers found serious defects in the locomotives and declared them unsafe to operate, especially for the passenger segment.


“Railways’ engineers have found under-frame cracks in 16 locomotives; which means they [Chinese party] haven’t provided us with a quality consignment as per our agreement,” said Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique in a press briefing on Monday.

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“Chinese engineers are scheduled to reach Lahore on Tuesday morning for inspecting the locomotives, after which we will make a final decision,” he added.

The locomotives were lying idle for the time being, however, Rafique said it would not be possible for the railways to replace the entire fleet in one go as it would hurt the recovery of the corporation.

“I am seriously concerned about the revenue targets which we have set for the financial year 2015-16. What we can do is that we could use the defective locomotives in freight operations and replace them gradually,” he said.

In 2013, the railways signed a deal with CSR Ziyang for the procurement of 58 diesel-electric locomotives, half of which had 2,000 horsepower and the other half had 3,000 horsepower.

The deal was finalised at a price of $48.431 million. First consignment of five locomotives reached Pakistan on April 5, 2014. By January 2015, the company delivered all the locomotives.

The induction of the new locomotives helped the railways streamline its operation and earn revenues of Rs31.92 billion, Rs3.95 billion in excess of the target in fiscal year 2014-15.


Keeping in view the pace of past growth, the management had increased its revenue target to Rs38 billion for fiscal year 2015-16, Rs5 billion more than the target suggested by government advisers.

Rafique said he was upset after hearing about the defects in locomotives. “Everyday we face new challenges and everyday we try to overcome them to keep the railways on the path of progress,” he added.

“Railways is establishing a designing wing within its mechanical department, moreover it is also establishing a research and development department to overcome such issues in the future.”

These important departments are missing from the railways and are now being established on an urgent basis.

“In future, we will hire a third-party consultant before signing any deal that involves the purchase of locomotives. Without the consultant’s recommendation, the railways will never approve locomotive designs.”

Talking about privatisation, he said privatisation was never considered for the Pakistan Railways, at least not during his tenure.

He claimed that there was a perfect relation between the management and different unions. “No one interferes in other’s matters, however, we do consider each other’s suggestions and opinions,” he said.

Later on Monday, the railways launched an upgraded version of the Business Train. It has spent Rs70 million to refurbish the train and increase its passenger capacity to 958 from 486.

Pakistan Railways prepares for tougher challenges ahead

Prior to the upgrade, the maximum daily revenue the railways could earn was Rs3.2 million. However, with the upgrade, it is expected to earn Rs3.95 million on a daily basis, with a gross fleet of 8 Economy, 2 Air-Conditioned Standard and 3 AC Business coaches.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2016.

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