LAHORE: The Pakistan Railways — the country’s second largest state owned enterprise — has no money to replace 100 locomotives that have passed their entire operational life of 20 to 25 years and has no option but to keep running them. Of the 100 outlived engines, around 35 were purchased in 1975—around 50 years ago, Dawn has learnt.

Besides unavailability of funds, the railways is plagued by other administrative issues as well that have forced it to keep the old fleet on tracks.

“The PR is in dire need of at least 100 new locomotives to replace the old ones procured in 1975 and 1990. But the problem is the paucity of funds that must be made available to procure new locomotives and save the heavy maintenance cost being incurred on making the old ones operational,” an official source explained while talking to Dawn.

“The situation is worsening as the incidents related to faults in the outlived engines are increasing,” the official, who requested anonymity, said, urging the government to allocate sufficient funds for the railways in the upcoming annual budget for the year 2024-25 under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).

35 engines were purchased 50 years back; company paying heavy cost for maintenance, fuel of old engines

According to the official, the Pakistan Railways has 350 active locomotives of various specifications. Besides this, it has over 60 engines that are not in operation and are currently parked at various yards. In railways terms, such engines are called as grounded and supposed to not to be used further. In 1975, the railways had purchased 35 locomotives of 300 horsepower. Some 10 or so were of 150 horsepower. Likewise, another 54 were procured in 1990, followed by some more purchased before the end of the year 2000. In 2013-14, the department purchased 63 more locomotives.

Similarly in 2017, the railways purchased 55 locomotives of 90 series (4,000 HP), having capacity to take load of 3,400 tonnes at 80km speed per hour. In 2019, another 20 engines of 45 series having capacity of 2,000 HP were also procured.

“If you see the purchasing year, we have only 138 locomotives that still have their life for 12 to 20 years or so. But the rest of all have completed their life, especially those procured in 1975 and the 1990s. Life of a new locomotive is up to 25 years maximum but the Pakistan Railways is still using the 35 to 50 years old locomotives with heavy maintenance cost,” the official said.

To a question, he added that to overcome the shortage of new locomotives, the railways needed sufficient funds to procure at least 100 new engines.

In this way, the railways can save millions of rupees being incurred on maintenance of old engines. Similarly, the cost of fuel can also be saved since the new engines in the market are fuel efficient with excellent mileage at a reasonably high speed.

GAS: The Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) on Sunday severed another 62 connections and imposed Rs1.5m fine on the consumers for gas pilferage and other illegalities.

In Lahore, according to a spokesman, the regional team severed one connection for illegal use of gas. In Multan, 11 connections were disconnected, in Sahiwal, three meters were disconnected while the teams in Faisalabad severed two connections on illegal use of gas.

The SNGPL regional team of Bahawalpur disconnected two meters for illegal use of gas while another for using a compressor. In Gujranwala, five connections were severed on different charges while fine was also imposed in gas theft cases.

Four connections were severed for illegal use of gas in Gujrat.

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2024

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