Minister admits railway track rehabilitation ignored

Updated May 19, 2019

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Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid speaks at a press conference at Railways Headquarters on Saturday.—Online
Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid speaks at a press conference at Railways Headquarters on Saturday.—Online

LAHORE: As hundreds of passengers travelling to Karachi remained stranded at Sukkur’s Rohri railway station for hours in extremely hot weather conditions, Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid admitted that the railways department had ignored rehabilitation of the track.

Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, he said he would soon inspect the condition of the track in Sukkur division on a trolley.

The passengers who remained stranded either due to a delay in restoration of the downward track or diversion of the downward rail traffic to the upward track, held the minister and the railway management responsible for the trouble they had to go through. They claimed that the operations staff at Rohri station did not offer them any guidance.

“The Pakistan Railways’ tall claims of facilitating passengers and providing alternative measures to reach their destinations have proven false and baseless. Many passengers were stranded at the Rohri station on Saturday for several hours, but no one guided, updated or facilitated them while they waited for their trains to resume travel to Karachi,” a passenger posted a complaint on social media. “They (the PR staff) also didn’t cancel any schedules and trains kept departing from their origins despite the closure of the track.”

Talking to Dawn, Sukkur Divisional Superintendent Malik Farooq confirmed that various trains were sent downward to facilitate passengers. “There were said reservations of several passengers on various trains. So trains were dispatched from Lahore as per schedule so that the stranded passengers could at least reach a nearby station. We succeeded in restoring upward rail traffic by Friday night. The downward track was cleared and traffic restored at about 12.30pm,” he added.

He further said that trains reached Rohri on Saturday afternoon due to which passengers were required to wait for up to 10 hours for the downward track to clear in harsh weather conditions, which annoyed them. He claimed that many passengers travelling upward on Friday were booked on buses so they did not have to wait any longer.

Meanwhile, various passenger trains departed late from Lahore for Karachi due to their late arrival here. “Karakoram Express departed seven hours late from Lahore. Similarly, the passengers of Shah Hussain Express were accommodated on another train. The departure of Jinnah and Business Express trains was cancelled and their passengers accommodated on Karachi Express that departed from Lahore at 5pm,” said a railways spokesman. Various other trains departed from Lahore on time, he added.

Mr Rashid said Pakistan Railways had approved stoppage of Khyber Mail, Jafar, Business and Tezgam express trains at the Lahore Cantonment Station in a bid to reduce rush of passengers at the main station. “Except night coaches, the rail cars will also stop at the cantonment railway station,” he added.

He further said the railways had also decided to allot 1,000 stalls at various stations to poor people.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2019