The fuel crisis in cash-strapped Pakistan Railways has once again compelled the administration to cancel as many as 16 passenger trains for three days to keep express trains on track.
These trains would remain suspended till December 27 as per the circular released on Friday evening. Pakistan Railways spokesperson, however, said that only 11 passenger trains have been suspended due to four-day holiday in Sindh.
He said that Railways will not be able to get fresh consignments of oil from Pakistan Sate Oil during these days. Limited amount of diesel for the forthcoming days resulted in the decision to sacrifice passenger trains for express trains. He ruled out any oil crisis in the coming days and said that Railways are continuously getting oil from PSO. The cancellation takes the tally of trains on the sideline to 136.
On Saturday morning, Lahore division was left only with 10,000 litres of diesel, however, a fresh consignment of 44,000 litres arrived in the afternoon which was filled in locomotives to depart express trains.
Diesel crisis has now spread to all divisions from the earlier Lahore division, informed a Railways official.
Fresh trains cancelled include the profitable 103 up and 102 down railcar (Lhr-Pindi-Lhr), Ghauri Express, and Sargodhar Express, Ravi Express, Bau Train, Maouj Darya Express, Okara Passenger and Peshawar Express.
The express trains departed Lahore railway station late due to oil shortage. Lahore division once again filled diesel in locomotives at the lowest level to push the train to Multan division, Multan division will then arrange the diesel till Sukkur division and Sukkur will fill diesel to make sure it reaches Karachi.
Despite prescheduled cancellation of branch line trains, reservation offices on Saturday were observed to be selling tickets of some remote junctions like Narowal. Passengers who had purchased tickets in advance were then queued in another window to return their tickets.
Passengers were puzzled at the fact that Railways officials knowing that trains will not be on track sold tickets for cancelled junction.
Moreover, Railways has decided not to run any special train to Larkana on the death anniversary of Benazir December 27. Spokesperson added that Railways has not received any request from the government in this regard.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2011.
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