PR to lose another profitable passenger train

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: If the mismanagement, lack of sufficient number of engines and train buses, continuous loss and rampant corruption in the organization was not enough, the management of Pakistan Railways is planning to handover another money-spinning project to the private sector which will deprive Railways of another income source, it was learnt on Monday.
According to reports, the management of Pakistan Railways has decided to privatize another passenger train, Karachi Express, this month. The train, which runs between Karachi and Lahore with a fine standing, will be handed over to a private firm after necessary redecoration and repairs, sources told The Frontier Post.
The Karachi Express is considered the last passenger train which brings sufficient income for the Pakistan Railways (PR), said the sources. But the project will be handed over to the company running a “Business Train” which had been a bad experience for Pakistan Railways. The private company is defaulting millions of rupees to Pakistan Railways (PR) but the management of PR is going to privatize another passenger train this month.
Refuting the news report of deal with the company operating ‘business train’ the Railways officials claimed that the new passenger train would be run by a private company, Air Rail Service (ARS) (Pvt) Ltd, which is already running ‘Shalimar Express” on Lahore-Karachi route. The official concerned rated the ARS better than the firm operating BT.
But irrespective of the fact that the train is going to be handed over to good or bad company, the rational behind kicking out cost-effective train of the PR family is still subject to stern scrutiny. If the project is doing well then what’s the reason of selling it out? Why not to privatize the trains running with loss? These are vital questions which the sources privy to this report asked and the officials were unable to answer.
Sources inform that the project after being privatized will be renamed as ‘Shalimar-II’ which is likely to be inaugurated by the end of this month in Lahore. The train will not offer fare concession to railways’ employees and others that are presently enjoying the discount. The fares will be much higher for the middle class commuters to afford.
Muqadar Zaman of the Railways Mazdoor Union while talking to The Frontier Post termed it yet another move towards the privatization of Pakistan Railways and adding that employees will not allow the railways to go into the hands of profit-earning private companies at the behest of World Bank and other international credit agencies.
He appealed to Prime Minister, Minister for Railways, Chairman and GM Railways to halt the process of privatization of important and profitable train, the process which he said was harmful to the Pakistan Railways, its employees and also railway passengers.


Published on January 25, 2013


Author: Naimat

Karachi based journalist, writing on national and international issues.

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