LAHORE: The financially troubled Pakistan Railways managed to continue its passenger train operations on Monday as it received desperately needed supply of over 200,000 litres of oil at the eleventh hour.
The situation started deteriorating last week when the railways was running out of diesel. To continue its operations, the management purchased diesel from the open market instead of waiting for supplies from the Pakistan State Oil (PSO).
Railway officials stressed that there was no payment dispute with the PSO and said the delay in fuel consignments was only due to the long distance a train has to cover for providing oil to different sheds.
The Lahore Loco shed got about 210,000 liters of diesel at 12.30 pm on Monday, which will be enough for the next three to four days. The Lahore division needs 60,000 litres of oil daily to run 24 express and passenger trains.
Talking to The Express Tribune, a railway official said, “We have no clue what would happen after this fuel ends as there is no other PSO consignment in the pipeline.”
Last week, he said, was very tough as the railways ran out of money required for the purchase of fuel from the open market, but the management of Business Express, which has been outsourced to a private firm, provided relief as it paid some of the outstanding amount.
“The railways purchases fuel from this amount as no train is running in profit. For the last couple of days, we were facing difficulties in buying oil from the open market because of rumours of a possible increase in prices of petroleum products,” the official said.
The fuel shortage disturbed the railways’ schedule. It cancelled the departure of Faisalabad-bound Ghauri Express while rest of the express trains ran late.
However, a spokesperson for the Pakistan Railways ruled out any fuel shortage, terming it propaganda. He also denied payment problems with the PSO, saying the railways was still very far from its credit limit.
“There are 15 sheds to which the train has to provide fuel. Lahore is the last destination and that causes delay. The sheds have been provided with some one million litres of oil, which will be enough for the next four days. After that, a fresh consignment will provide fuel to all the sheds as per schedule,” he said.
The spokesperson stressed that no train service was cancelled, but some trains left the platform a little bit late.
Commenting on the purchase of diesel from the open market, the spokesperson said whenever the administration feared about the late arrival of consignments, they purchased oil from the open market to continue with its operations.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2012.
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