Rail travel: 4-6 hour train delays to continue ‘for three months’

PR spokesman says locomotive failures causing delay, will take time to fix.


Shahram Haq June 20, 2011

LAHORE:


The recent spate of heavy delays at the City Railway Station is likely to continue for at least three months while the cash-strapped Pakistan Railways tries to repair its failing locomotives.


Railways spokesman Mohsin Yousaf told The Express Tribune that the delays were caused by locomotive failures brought on by the hot weather, overuse and lack of spare parts for traction motors.

Recently, several train journeys have been hit by engine failure midway, which have pushed train schedules back for several hours. Passengers crowding platforms where coaches without locomotives sit idle has become a common sight. Two days ago, the Fareed Express left the City Railway Station 36 hours behind schedule because a functioning locomotive was unavailable.

Diesel locomotives have six traction motors, but Pakistan Railways (PR) has been running its locomotives with three or four motors. This results in the motors getting overheated, especially during long journeys, and potential engine failure, though PR tries to mitigate that risk by changing locomotives every 200 km. Also, the engine oil is being changed after twice the recommended mileage.

Yousaf said that the delays were not caused by a fuel shortage as PR was receiving regular diesel shipments. He said that PR had been unable to maintain the locomotives due to lack of funding. This was now resulting in breakdowns and subsequent delays.

He said that PR had not received a single penny from the bailout package announced by the government. “We don’t know how much Railways’ allocation will be in the budget,” he said.

Yousaf said that PR would soon float international tenders for spare parts for its locomotives from its “routine” budget. “Once the spare parts reach PR workshops, the situation will start improving, but it will take another three months at least to complete this process,” he said.

Meanwhile, passengers at the City Railway Station have started getting used to delays of 4-6 hours, even for so-called express trains. A lack of space on the platform, combined with extreme heat and no access to cold water make their plight even worse.

Train user Shabbir Anwar said that six hours after he had dropped his friend off at the station for his journey to Lodharan via Fareed Express, he got a phone call from the friend asking him to bring him some food at the station since the train had sill not left. “We asked the stations master when the train would depart but he didn’t know. After a couple of hours my friend took the bus because he couldn’t find out when the train was leaving,” Anwar said.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2011.

COMMENTS (2)

Babar | 10 years ago | Reply Congratulations. One day we will have no trains at all and we will be back to riding pillion on donkey back. Congratulations once again. The day is not far.
Hassan | 10 years ago | Reply All over the world trains operate in profit. Even with high fares and high rate of passengers and still Pakistan railway makes loss. Its all because of corruption and mismanagement.Which no one wants to fix it.Sadly
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