Decline of Pakistan Railway
22 April 2013
Ah, what wouldn't I give to be able to get on, say, Khyber Mail from Lahore at 8.00 AM, watch the countryside slide past, eat a leisurely meal in the dining car and sleep in the comfort of the air conditioned coupe. The next morning, get into the toilet, shave and shower and be ready for business in Karachi! I remember a time, only twenty years ago, when I at the fag end of a journey would be somewhere in the middle of the country like Sadiqabad or Rohri. I would go to the railway station and there would be seven or eight (possibly more) trains headed for Lahore before the day was out. Getting on Awam Express from these places was ideal because it put you in Lahore at 5.00 the next morning. You slept comfortably and had the full day to work. By the way, this was after the trains were reordered: from the seven-bogey trains, they were turned into, I think, twenty-three bogies. Suddenly, there was enough room in the trains and tickets were easy to get. The 1990s were like the final dying gasp of the Pakistan Railway.
This was the Baloch people's own asset, but once wily leaders misguide ordinary folks, they see no reason. Three bridges were dynamited and the service to that magical place Khost brought to an end. This total disregard for an important asset has resulted in the destruction of some of the most picturesque railway stations. Oh, how much we have lost. But no tears were wasted, no sleep lost. No one fretted. We simply let the once great railway system hurtle down the dark tube.
posted by Salman Rashid @ 12:00 AM,
- At April 22, 2013 at 11:50 AM, said...
Everyone knows where Mandra-Chakwal-Bhun rail track has gone? I use to commute on that route when I was working in Rawalpindi. Now I keep thinking who will pull the bricks from the railway buildings on the route.
- At April 22, 2013 at 5:34 PM, Nayyar Julian said...
The post make me cry. I have been using trains all my life. I use to take trains when I can because it used to be cheap, safe and easy. But, alas, the railway is dead. No one can salvage it. What to talk of adding some thing and improving with development in technologies, we have wasted what British left for us. Balore and General from Chakwal and all other involved are answerable. No?
- At April 22, 2013 at 6:03 PM, Qasim on Twitter said...
I'm hoping that the Railways and PIA get turned into a public corporation, as Imran Khan outlined in his policy papers.
- At April 26, 2013 at 5:54 PM, Nayyar Hashmey on Twitter said...
What a fantastic thought. Our railway is not overtaking air travel. Khota rehrhis are taking over Pak Railway services
- At May 6, 2013 at 5:04 PM, sa said...
PIA will be dead by December, as the MD of the corporation has declared recently. The railway now runs only about five services. These will very likely cease about the same time as the last PIA flight lands. The bus mafia is victorious, the corrupt governments of Pakistan have once again submitted.
- At December 19, 2014 at 5:46 PM, Muhammad Imran Saeed said...
Sir, a wonderful piece and I could sense the emotions attached here. It's sad that we negligently lost and are losing this asset, more pathetic is the fact that the people sitting on the helm of affairs are cold hearted. I bet they have never tasted this romance of Railways as if they never boarded a train in their life; what a pity!
- At December 20, 2014 at 5:03 PM, Salman Rashid said...
Much emotion is truly attached to all my work on the railway. I spent my childhood riding steam locos at the Garhi Shahu steam shed. Fond memories of Kharian to Karachi trips by Khyber Mail.
- At March 22, 2015 at 9:55 PM, Mudassar mushtaq gill said...
we all should struggle to restore our glorious Railway and PIA romances.
- At March 23, 2015 at 11:36 AM, Salman Rashid said...
However, nothing is being done Mudassar.
- At November 1, 2016 at 10:42 PM, Kaliunis Fernandez said...
Thank you for your eloquent piece.
My study of the NW region of the South Asian Subcontinent is embryonic, having been ignited by my Ethnographical promptings.
No other area in the world has witnessed such a crisscrossing of cultures for centuries in such a slim corridor; its patrimony is a Global treasure.
How wanting is the vision for a cohesive sustainable railway logistic for the Region. Perhaps we must wait with confidence for the Chinese-supported Gwadar rail artery to tempt Vision 2030 to think again about the serviceability of the National Railway.
The Region is so precious. Let's keep optimistic, with Herculean patience.
- At March 29, 2017 at 12:03 PM, Suhayl Shah said...
I have spent my childhood in the railway town of Samasatta. Back in the glory days of steam engines, i used to spend entire days at the railway station. Being a junction and having a loco shed, the station used to be town on its own. Unfortunately today non of the glory remains. The platforms lie empty with hardly any passengers.
Mr Salman Rashid has done great research into the death of the PR. I really appreaciate your travelogues and the way you have written about the dismatled lines and bridges.
I think there is still hope. There is a chance of rehabilitation of the PR under the CPEC. It might perhaps become something modern.
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