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Fuel crisis, foggy conditions Inter-city commuters turn to railways

Published Jan 02, 2013 10:23pm

RAWALPINDI, Jan 2: The closure of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations and shortage of petrol, coupled with foggy conditions, have led the inter-city transporters to keep their vehicles off the road.

It has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Pakistan Railways as more and more people are turning to trains.

The Pakistan Railways data substantiates this assumption as January 1 and January 2 witnessed a sharp increase in passengers, traveling by trains.

On these two dates alone 2,279 and 2,045 passengers travelled to Lahore by four trains as against 1,109 and 1,349 on the same dates last months.

Transporters say that due to  shortage of fuel and foggy conditions they are left with no option but to ground their vehicles.

Besides, the transporters running their vehicles on petrol and diesel talk of increasing fares.

Ghulam Rasul, an owner of the transport service, said they would suffer losses, if they continued to charge the fare they did when they operated their vehicles on CNG. “We will increase the fares very soon,” he said.

Murtaza Hussain, a transporter at Peshawar Road, while talking to Dawn said: “Fog kept the motorway closed to general traffic last night and it will remain closed on Wednesday night as well.”

However, in this whole saga the sufferers are commuters who have been left with very limited choice.

Mohammad Zain, a passenger at Rawalpindi railway station, said: “I have to go to Lahore to attend the marriage of my younger brother and I decided to go by train as the road traffic was not reliable in foggy condition.”

Besides, he said, the fuel crisis had also created problems as the transporters were charging high fares. “They demanded Rs600 per seat for Lahore as compared to Rs400 per seat last week,” he said.

Tariq Javed, a passenger for Multan, said that he was going to Lahore by train as it would not be affected by the fog. “The traveling through G.T. Road and Motorway will be dangerous in foggy condition,” he said.

Another train passenger, Zaheer Qureshi, said that the transporters were charging high fare on the pretext of fuel shortage. He said that the train would be late for one hour but it would be safe in bad weather and relatively cheaper.

The divisional superintendent of Pakistan Railways, Syed Munawar Shah, said that the passengers’ number had increased not because of CNG and petrol crisis but Pakistan Railways had decreased the Rawalpindi-Lahore fare.

However, he said the foggy conditions might have turned the commuters to trains as they could run in bad weather condition.

“Yes, the trains speed reduces in foggy condition but it travel continuously without any hurdle,” he said.

TAXILA: The CNG and petrol crisis has crippled the public transport system in Taxila and Hassanabdal.

As a result, commuters faced problem in reaching their destinations, and the worst sufferers were students and working class.

A large number of commuters, including women, children, labourers and students, were seen waiting for buses and vans at Taxila main chowk, bus stand, Nawababad, Ahatta, Hassanabdal bus stand, Hazra road and Cadet College Chowk.

It was observed that elderly men, women, and children approached their destinations on their foot due to shortage of public transport on Tuesday.

Moreover, it was observed that more than 80 per cent of the public transporters did not ply their vehicles on Monday on the pretext of gas load shedding.