Dec 17, 2011

New low in Pakistan Railway history: Diesel being bought from open market

LAHORE, Dec 16: The worst-ever fuel crisis in the Pakistan Railways history forced the officials on Friday to purchase diesel from the open market to at least continue operation of the express trains originating from Lahore.
The situation also forced the railways authorities to temporarily suspend operations of its passenger trains from Lahore to various cities/sections, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded at the (Lahore) railway station.
Officials told Dawn that on Thursday morning senior PR officials failed to receive the required fuel from the PSO until evening that led to suspension of or delay in the departure of express trains.
“On Thursday evening we had received a small quantity of fuel that enabled us to run the trains. But the situation worsened on Friday when unavailability of diesel forced us to temporarily close all of our local trains,” Divisional Transportation Officer (DTO) Ashfaq Tabassum told this reporter.He said it was for the first time in the history of the organisation that the PR’s
Lahore Station management bought 25,000 litres of diesel from the open market in order to run its express trains. It expected to receive sufficient fuel quantity from the PSO by Saturday (today) morning.
“And if we will not receive the diesel from the PSO till Saturday evening, we will again buy the fuel from the open market to continue our express trains operation,” he said.
Mr Tabassum said the routes/sections on which the PR temporarily suspended operation of local trains included Lahore-Sheikhupura, Lahore-Shorkot via Faisalabad, Lahore-Wazirabad, Lahore-Narowal, Lahore-Okara, Lahore-Faisalabad and Lahore-Sargodha.
Mr Tabassum said except for an international goods train running between Lahore and Attari (India) through Wagah border, the PR had already closed its goods trains operation across the country due to shortage of locomotives and fuel.
“The shortage of locomotives as well as diesel has also forced us to even close our material and maintenance trains meant to be used for transporting construction or other such sort of material for PR’s official assignments and performing relief duty at
the time of any untoward incident,” the official lamented.
Talking about the background of fuel supply, the official said the PSO used to dispatch bulk quantity of fuel on credit on a monthly basis but the increasing financial burden and denial of payments to the oil provider forced it (PSO management) to first limit fuel supply on a weekly and then on a daily basis.
“And now the PSO has flatly refused to supply diesel on credit and asked the PR management to first clear the previous fuel bills/payments,” he said.
He said the PR management was discussing modalities with the PSO authorities in order to ensure availability of sufficient fuel for continuing routine train operations.
“The shortage of locomotives and diesel has also hit the PR operations at Khanewal, Faisalabad, Multan, Peshawar,
Quetta, Samasatta, Bahawalnagar, DG Khan and some others railway stations,” an official told this reporter on the request of anonymity.
The goods trains — Khanewal-Multan, Multan-Lahore, Bahawalnagar-Samasatta, Bahawalnagar-Mandi Sadiq Ganj and Multan-DG Khan – were already not operational. The official said the government should immediately announce a financial package for the PR’s rehabilitation.
PROTEST: Scores of railways workers demonstrated at the PR headquarters on Friday.
The workers led by Railways Mazdoor Ittehad head Hafiz Salman Butt went pass various offices in the headquarters and chanted slogans against the government.
The protesters tried to enter the PR chairman’s office but the police stopped them. They demanded that the authorities continue trains operation in order to facilitate the passengers. They also invited the PR officials to participate in “Save Rail
Rally” scheduled to be held on Dec 21.
Source - Dawn

 

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