No trains, more pain
With the revival of Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) being a distant dream, the suspension of Shalimar Express and five other passenger trains have added to the miseries of commuters.
The decision by the Pakistan Railways (PR) to suspend six trains has deprived the vast majority of people of a cheap mode of transport. The timing is particularly upsetting as summer is peak traffic time with schools off and people traveling upcountry for vacations.
It is upsetting to see yet another burden dumped on the people of this country who already have to bear the brunt of rising commodity and utility prices. And frankly, they have suffered enough financial repercussions of the pathetic state of affairs and administrative confrontations by successive governments. It’s high time a decision be made on the status of the PR — whether it’s a public sector organisation or a commercial entity.
With inflation increasing at an alarming rate, inter-city bus and air fares going beyond the common person’s reach, the only relatively cheap alternative one has to travel upcountry is the railway. However, the railway authority’s argument is simple as well. They need the money and for them freight trains are more lucrative than passenger trains. And while it may be quite easy to say that passengers, as in the case of Shalimar Express, will not face any difficulty because there is Shah Shams train running on the same route, matters are not as simple as that. Do they actually know that this will further aggravate the problem as their trains are already in a pitiful state and excess load on them will make the situation even worse? The Shah Shams has around 10 to 12 bogies and adding the passengers of Shalimar Express to it would not only increase commuter traffic but may also further deteriorate its already poor service.
Is closure/suspension of trains the right solution to the so-called ‘losses’ of the PR? Will they be able to recover their losses now?
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2010.
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