KARACHI: Pakistan Railways (PR) has suspended the operation of 16 passenger trains due to Rs18 billion losses that it has suffered in the last three months.
Ten of 16 passenger trains belong to the Rawalpindi Division, two to the Sukkur Division, two to the Multan Division, and two to Karachi Division. PR’s spokesman said that 120 trains have been operating at a loss for many months. “As a last resort, 16 passenger trains have been terminated with immediate effect,” he said.. Further termination of services will be announced in phases to try and reduce our loss, he added.
General Manager (Operation) Pakistan Railways Ashfaq Khattak stated that PR had proposed to the government to increase fares by 15 per cent to plug the loss adding that government did not increase the fare despite a surge in the diesel prices from Rs 30 to Rs 77 during the last two years. Khattak warned that fuel reserves will be depleted within two to three days adding that PR had to pay Rs600 million to Pakistan State Oil (PSO) for the purchase of fuel.
Of the Rs600 million, only Rs250 million have been paid so far since PR does not have sufficient funds to clear the rest of the PSO arrears due to its losses. According to senior PR officials, in 2009, PR had decided to suspend the operation of 5 passenger trains, while four Karachi and Quetta bound services were to be curtailed under a proposed saving plan. A feasibility report was completed requiring the approval of the prime minister. A study conducted by PR revealed that it was suffering a loss Rs1,054.95 million every year in operating the five passenger trains.
The study revealed that PR could save more than Rs1 billion after closing the operation of these five trains. The report also said that PR could save Rs77 million by curtailing the destination of some Karachi bound trains since previous governments had started these services on political grounds.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 14th, 2010.