RAWALPINDI, July 29: Due to shortage of fuel and difficulties to run 18 trains from Rawalpindi, Pakistan Railways (PR) Rawalpindi Division purchased 140,000 liters of diesel from the open market, during the last one week.
On Sunday, PR faced difficulties purchasing diesel from the open market, as diesel in high quantity was not available after the news that the government would likely increase the price of diesel from July 31 (Tuesday).
A well-placed PR official said that the Divisional Superintendent had formed three teams to buy fuel for Rawalpindi Division. He said that PR would buy diesel from Pakistan State Oil (PSO) depot at Sihala, if they needed diesel from open market.
He said the PSO was reluctant to provide diesel in high quantity in fear of hoarding but railway authorities managed to contact PSO officials and requested them to provide diesel on the price of July 30 (Monday).
He said the railways bought diesel from PSO Karachi and supplied to all the divisions via freight trains. “Due to non-payment of arrears against the procurement of diesel, PSO delayed the supply,” he said.
He said PR procured more than 200,000 litres of diesel daily to run its operations across the country.
He said that after taking notice of shortage of fuel, railway authorities managed to pay arrears in installments and PSO released the supply from Karachi on Sunday, which arrived in Rawalpindi Division on Monday evening.
He said total of 19 trains operated from Rawalpindi, travelling to different parts of the country, including Quetta, Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Peshawar. He said they approximately required 35,000 liters of diesel daily.
He said that due to shortage of diesel, PR managed to opt for an alternate option as it filled the fuel tanks of trains from Rawalpindi to Lahore, Quetta, Karachi, Multan, Peshawar and other parts of the country for a one way trip and the destination station was responsible to fill the tank for the return trip.
Railway reservation officials told Dawn that due to shortage of fuel and faulty engines, which caused delays in arrival and departure of trains, more than 30 percent passengers are turning to alternative mode of transportation.
They said that 18 trains from Rawalpindi to Karachi, Lahore and other cities, carried more than 10,000 passengers daily but in Ramazan, the passengers were reduced to 7000 daily.
They said that it was routine that PR witnessed low business in Ramazan but the inflow of passengers increased after the 20th of Ramazan.
When contacted, Divisional Superintendent Syed Munawar Shah said that PR procured diesel from the open market due to late arrival of freight train from Karachi, bringing diesel.
He said that the procurement was held in Railway headquarters in Lahore and he had no details of the issue.
This reporter tried to contact PR General Manager Operation, Junaid Qureshi but he mobile phone was switched off.