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February 16, 2020

Railways policy

Newspost

 
February 16, 2020

This letter refers to the news report ‘SC directs completion of ML-1 project in two years’ (Feb 13, 2020). The problem of the ML-1 project is not legal in nature but one of economic and public policy. Deterioration of track, rolling stock, overall operating efficiency and financial losses are only symptoms. The root causes stem from the fact that Pakistan Railways is not run as a commercial enterprise but instead as a government department following government instructions and policies irrespective of their effect on costs and revenues. For example, goods traffic is profitable, but preference is given to passenger traffic. Pakistan Railways is also continuing to operate loss-making secondary and tertiary routes at the instance of the government. They have never billed the government for the losses incurred by such operations.

In order to solve these problems Pakistan Railways should close all secondary and tertiary routes and give greater preference to the more profitable traffic of goods. This will improve operating ratios and release sufficient resources for clearing the maintenance backlog. Furthermore, Pakistan Railways should build in-house capability for maintenance of track, rolling stock and signaling.

Abdul Majeed

Islamabad