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KARACHI : A locomotive being offloaded from a ship at the Karachi port on Monday.—APP
KARACHI : A locomotive being offloaded from a ship at the Karachi port on Monday.—APP

KARACHI: Pakistan Railways inducted into its fleet seven new freight-specific locomotives, delivered by the United States firm General Electric (GE), during a ceremony at the Karachi port on Monday morning.

Under a Rs470.6 million contract signed by the GE and the railways in the third quarter of 2015, 55 such state-of-the-art diesel electric locomotives will be delivered within 18 months, but the manufacturer hopes to do this in 16 months. The arrival of the seven engines completed the first phase.

With high-capacity and coal-hopper wagons attac­hed, the engines will be utilised for transporting coal mainly from the Karachi port to power plants upcountry. The Sahiwal coal power project will be their main beneficiary.

Divisional Superinten­dent of Pakistan Railways in Karachi Nisar Ahmed Memon said the induction of all 55 engines would help increase the freight operations three times.

The new engines will be utilised for coal transportation, especially for the Sahiwal Coal Power Project

Pakistan Railways Chief Executive Officer Javed Anwar Bobak said Pakistan was the first country in South Asia to have procured 4,000 to 4,500 horsepower locomotives, which were five per cent more fuel efficient and more environment-friendly, with less maintenance cost. “These locomotives will contribute in developing the national economy and minimising the energy crisis. It is like inducting new blood into the railways,” he said.

“Earlier, we used to give priority to our passenger trains and the best locomotives were used for pulling them, while the old engines were used for freight operations. But... the freight sector should earn so that the passenger sector can be subsidised,” he said.

GE’s CEO Sarim Sheikh said the company had some 10,000 engines in service in 60 countries.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2017