ISLAMABAD: A majority of Pakistan Railways mammoth fleet of locomotives, around 63.43 per cent, have completed their economic lives making them less commercially viable.
Only a 162, or 36.56 per cent, of Pakistan Railways fleet have yet to complete their stipulated economic life of 20 years.
According to documents submitted before the National Assembly Standing Committee on Pakistan Railways recently, out of a fleet of 443 locomotives only 280 – or around 63.20 per cent – are functional.
Engines are usually designed with an economic life of 20 years. After completing this term, they tend to break down frequently and their upkeep, thus, is costly.
The documents further showed that Railways still has 156 locomotives which are 40 years or older -- over twice their economic age. One of these locomotives was a 53-year old diesel-electric locomotive manufactured by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO).
Sources in Pakistan Railways revealed that of these old locomotives, 78 were still in use. This makes around 27.86 per cent of Railways active fleet of engines.
Apart from these, Pakistan Railways has 41 locomotives which are between the ages of 31-40 years, and 84 locomotives which were between 21-30 years of age.
Of the engines which are yet to complete their economic life include 99 locomotives aged between 11-20 years and just 63 locomotives which were manufactured in the past 10 years.
Another issue with locomotives which are over 40 years old is that they have different horsepower (HPs). Most of these, around 53, have 2,000 HP; 36 have 3,000 HP, 19 are 2,400 HP, while 48 are relatively weak at 1,500 HP and below.
Those engines between 31-40 years of age, eight locomotives have 2,000 HP and 33 locomotives have 1,500 HP or below.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2016.