IT is only under the court’s order that Pakistan Railways restored the circular railways partially from Nov 16. The action has been taken in haste as is evident from the timetable of the two evening up-trains plying between downtown Karachi City and the suburban areas of Malir and Landhi.
While the official closure time of all banks, including the State Bank and the National Bank head offices and most offices around Merewether Tower, I.I. Chundrigar Road and Saddar areas, is 5.30pm. Strangely, the last train will leave Karachi City station at 5.15pm for Malir and Landhi.
Earlier, the noon train on this route leaves the station at 2.15pm. As such, the evening train will not only be useless for a large number of office workers, but will also not provide any respite from the usual traffic rush on these busy commercial thoroughfares.
Similarly, the first two down-trains from Pipri to Orangi in the morning will reach SITE and Manghopir areas at 9.25am and 11.55am respectively. All factories and industrial units start work at 8am. The SITE area timing anomaly can be corrected by restoring the Karsaz Railway station from where commuters can take road transport to reach industrial areas in the north of the city.
This ‘ill-planned’ — or rather ‘craftily’ planned — timetable of circular trains needs to be revisited. All over the world, a business product is offered at the most suitable times and places to create demand and make the product viable. However, in the case of Karachi Circular Railway, actions speak louder than words.
Volumes can be written on how KCR can be improved and run profitably provided it is done in good faith.
Raihan A. K. Lodhi
Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2020