QUETTA: Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique on Friday said the authorities concerned will be able to restore railways operations on the Quetta-Taftan track, which was damaged at 104 locations, by September 30 but the rail link between Quetta and the rest of Pakistan could not be immediately restored due to the collapse of a bridge in Machh area of Bolan.

Addressing a press conference in Quetta, the railways minister said Pakistan Railways suffered losses worth billions due to floods that recently swept the country.

Speaking about the damaged railway bridge in Machh, he said train service between Quetta and other parts of the country was not possible at the time but the Pakistan Railway along with other organisations, including the army, was trying to “repair or replace” the bridge. It will take some time to open the track for rail traffic,” he added.

Responding to a question about the bridge, he said a “floating bridge” in Bolan would need some time as the design of the bridge was being prepared in Karachi. “It is difficult to work due to some other problems, including security, but the work on the bridge will be completed soon,” he added.

Similarly, a 11-km-long section of the railway track connecting Dera Allahyar with Jacobabad was under three feet of water which was hampering the resumption of traffic on the route, he said, adding the repair work will start as soon as the water recedes.

Mr Rafique also said the Karachi railway section will be restored in the next few days as work on the track was underway. He added the work on the Sibi-Harnai section was 90 per cent complete.

Responding to another question, Mr Rafique said that over the past four years, no work had been done on the railways line project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. He said mega railways projects are not possible without international funding. “To do the most expensive work, it is necessary to continue the policy, whoever comes [to power],” he added.

Mr Rafique, who is also the aviation minister, said that he will visit the Quetta airport and try to resolve the problems faced by the people.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2022

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