Horrific accidents, losses amounting to billions, and most recently the stoppage of a train by the driver to buy yogurt for himself sum up the rapidly deteriorating state Pakistan Railways finds itself in, The Express Tribune reported.
According to a report for the Ministry of Railways, while the departmental deficit ballooned to a whopping 46 billion PKR in 2021, during the current Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government’s tenure, total losses incurred for railways stand at 1.19 trillion PKR. As far as accidents are concerned, 270 people lost their lives and a further 396 were injured in 455 train accidents between 2018 and 2021.
As per the reports, 57 passenger trains were shut down and now only 85 trains are available for the various routes across the country.
Similarly, the number of freight carriages was reduced from 16,159 to 14,327. While the number of employees decreased from 120,000 to 67,627, pensioners of the department now stand at more than 115,000 people.
The report states that during the last financial year, while the salaries of current railway employees amounted to 28.21 billion PKR, a hefty 31.41 billion PKR was spent on retirement pensions.
Sheikh Mohammad Anwar, Central President of Pakistan Railways CBA Union remarked that since 1991-92, the District Management Group (DMG), which is now known as the Pakistan Administrative Service, has appointed the Chairman Railways but none of their appointments have managed to improve railways, the report said.
Directing his ire towards the department, he stated that in all the accidents from 1992 to date, railway officers and employees were suspended and sent to jails, but no responsibility was imposed on any chairman.
Former Federal Minister for Railways and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) central leader, Khawaja Saad Rafique said,”The train is a ride for the poor and middle class, and we strengthened the department with reforms but the present government has ruined whatever ground we made by its incompetence.”