LAHORE: As operations of the Pakistan Railways were already disturbed because of a number of technical issues, it worsened after various stretches of the decrepit track depressed due to ongoing monsoon rains, especially on the Tando Adam-Karachi section, limiting speed of passenger and goods trains to 10km-20km per hour.
“The situation in the PR these days is very bad, as the ongoing rains have caused a massive damage to the already dilapidated tracks especially on the Tando Adam-Karachi section where the track has sunk and is depressed. So the arrival and departure schedule of all trains, which were already disturbed due to accidents, derailments, launching of several new trains, shortage of coaches, wagons, faulty signalling system etc, has worsened,” an official source in the PR told Dawn on Saturday.
“It seems that a long time is required for the PR to ensure punctuality in arrival and departure of trains.”
While department is focusing on launching new trains, accidents continue to happen because of decaying tracks
At present, various PR teams are working along various stretches of the sunken and depressed track (main line-1) and engaged in various rehabilitation works, including diversion of the accumulated rainwater by preparing temporary drains. They are also facing great difficulties in doing these works, especially in the areas where the ground level of the track is already down due to rising level of built-up areas in various cities.
“Among various stretches of the track, Tando Adam-Karachi is a section where the drivers have no option but to run the Up/Down trains on extremely low speed (10 to 20km per hour). Similarly, they (the drivers) are also passing all stations with slow speed due to faulty interlocking/ signaling system that had already caused various train accidents and derailments and led to loss of precious human lives,” the official explained.
He said keeping in view the worsening situation the PR’s top authorities led by the CEO are set to reach the affected areas on Sunday. He said the ongoing rains had also damaged the signaling system further at several stations, including Lahore.
On the other hand, the PR administration, which had decided to stop running new passenger trains, now plans to launch five new freight trains. And this may make the operational situation worse. As the minister for railways had announced on July 20 to run five new trains with a pledge to increase revenue and bring down the losses, the departments concerned are busy these days in arranging engines and other material required for launching new goods trains.
“While the PR is focusing on launching new trains, derailments and accidents continue to happen because of the decaying rail tracks (main and branch lines), faulty signaling/interlocking system, human error, unrealistic expansion of operation, severe shortage of manpower and other technical, planning and administrative issues,” said another official source.
“This is the time to immediately start rehabilitation of the decaying tracks. And if the PR continues ignoring this most important issue, it may face loss of human lives, and public and private property due to more accidents, derailments, etc,” he warned.
Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2019