Govt asked to revive rail transportation

Speakers at an event have urged the government to pay more attention on reviving the railways, which has been struggling to stay on track owing to state negligence, inefficiencies and mismanagement.


They were speaking at a session organised by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) to discuss a report on the performance of railways at a local hotel on Wednesday.


“A certain kind of romance was attached with railways, which made it the most secure and reliable means of transportation and we have fond memories attached to it,” Pildat president, Ahmed Bilal Mehmood, said.


“It is for this reason that when we hear negative news about railways, it hurts us. On the other hand, every time we hear positive news, we feel like it is a ray of hope,” he added.


He highlighted the reasons for the decline of the railways. “Postings, transfers, fund allocations, investments, policies, financial budgets and decision-making were based not on merit but on narrow political considerations.”


National Assembly Standing Committee on Railways chairman Naveed Qamar said that railways had been a neglected area for the past many years.


“The government has made road as the preferred mode of transport by investing heavily on motorways. In other parts of the world, railway is the most preferred mode of transportation but we changed the policy somewhere in the 60s and as a result it deteriorated over time,” he said.


He also outlined areas that needed investment including the signaling, tracks and modernisation of railway stations simultaneously.


Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak said that the government should know that it was not metros, roads but railway that needed attention.


Railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said “When I joined the Pakistan Railways, I would come across a sense of failure very often and we are all equally responsible for it. He further said that the only way railways can function properly was to ensure proper funding and investment and the attention from the government, opposing political interference.


Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2015.