First batch of heavyweight locomotives added in Pakistan Railway
03 April, 2017
LAHORE: The freight service of Pakistan Railways (PR) has received a boost with the addition of the first batch of ‘heavyweight’ locomotives to its fleet. Equipped with the latest technology, these fully computerised locomotives of 4,000 horsepower (HP) each can haul up to 3,400 tonnes of load, use less fuel and are environment-friendly.
An agreement to procure 55 diesel-electric locomotives had been signed between PR and GE Transportation Diesel Locomotives in Lahore on June 20, 2015. The first batch of seven locomotives had reached Karachi port in the last week of January this year, put to trial run and inducted into the PR fleet on Sunday.
“After arrival of all the 55 locomotives of 4,000 HP each by July this year, railways will be able to transport double the freight it is carrying at present,” Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique told the media at a ceremony at Lahore Railway Station on Sunday.
He said that 41 of these locomotives would be dedicated to transporting coal from Karachi port to the Sahiwal and Jamshoro power plants, while the remaining 15 would be used for general freight services.
“It is the first procurement for railways during the present regime. It is the first time that the best available machine in the world has been added to the PR fleet through a transparent process,” said the minister, adding that a new business plan for freight service was being formulated to increase the PR income.
To a question, the minister said that a thorough probe being conducted into the recent accident at Nabi Pur level crossing near Hiran Minar station in Sheikhupura would soon be completed.
“Initial reports suggest that the gatekeeper did not act wisely. Had the gatekeeper not wasted time in arguing with the tanker driver and informed the cabin man on time, the accident would have been averted. Examination of the burnt locomotive suggests that locomotive driver Muhammad Latif and his assistant Abdul Hameed had tried their best to apply emergency breaks till the last moment, which helped in reducing the intensity of the collision and saving the lives of passengers,” he said.
Rafique said that the heirs of Muhammad Latif would get financial assistance of Rs7.7 million and those of Abdul Hameed Rs7.4 million. He also announced a compensation of Rs1.2 million and Rs900,000 for the heirs of Latif and Hameed, respectively, besides a plot each worth Rs5 million and job for one person of each bereaved family.
Freight service is the major source of income for railways worldwide and the Pakistan Railways used to earn at least Rs6 billion annually from the operation of eight to 10 freight trains from Karachi to various upcountry destinations daily.
An acute shortage of locomotives in May 2011 had forced the railways administration to suspend all cargo trains from Karachi. Suspension of passenger trains and availability of locomotives resulted in restoration of freight service of four trains daily in December the same year.