Pakistan Railways Network map
|Dates of operation||1947–present|
|Track gauge||1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) and1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in)|
Pakistan Railways (reporting mark PR) is a national state-owned rail transport service of Pakistan, head-quartered in Lahore. It is administered by the federal government under the Ministry of Railways. PR provides an important mode of transportation throughout Pakistan. It is commonly referred to as the "life line of the country", by aiding in large scale movement of people and freight throughout Pakistan. The current chairman is Sami-ul-Haq Khilji.
Main article: History of rail transport in Pakistan
Extent of the Railway network in 1909
Khyber Steam Train Safari
The idea of a rail network was first thought of in 1847, with the possibility of Karachi becoming a major seaport. Sir Henry Edward Frere, who was appointed as the Commissioner of Sindh, sought permission from Lord Dalhousie to begin a survey for a Karachi Seaport and a survey for a railway line in 1858. The proposed railway line would be laid from Karachi (city) to Kotri. A steamboat service on the Indus and Chenab rivers would connect Kotri to Multan and from there another railway line would be laid to Lahore and beyond.
On May 13th, 1861 the first railway line was opened to the public, between Karachi (city) and Kotri, with a total distance of 105 miles (169 km).
By 1886, there were four railway companies operating in what would become Pakistan. The Scinde (Sindh) Railways, Indian Flotilla Company, Punjab Railway and Delhi Railways. These were amalgamated into the Scinde, Punjab & Delhi Railways Company and purchased by the Secretary of State for India in 1885, and in January 1886 formed the North Western State Railways, which was later on renamed as North Western Railway (NWR). This would eventually become Pakistan Railways in 1947.
Another railway line between Karachi and Keamari was opened on June 16, 1889. In 1897, the line from Keamari to Kotri was doubled.
By 1898 as the network began to grow, another proposed railway line was in the works from Peshawar to Karachi. It closely followed the route taken by Alexander The Great and his army while marching through the Hindu Kush to the Arabian Sea. During the early 20th century, railway lines were also laid down between Peshawar and Rawalpindi and Rawalpindi to Lahore. Different sections on the existing main line from Peshawar and branch lines were constructed in the last quarter of 19th century and early 20th century.
In 1947, after Pakistan became an independent state, 1,947 route miles (3,133 km) of North Western Railways were transferred to Pakistan from British India.
In 1954, the railway line was extended to Mardan and Charsada, and in 1956 the Jacobabad-Kashmore 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge line was converted into broad gauge. In 1961, the Pakistani portion of North Western Railways was renamed Pakistan Railways. The Kot Adu-Kashmore line was constructed between 1969 and 1973 providing an alternative route from Karachi to northern Pakistan.
Karakoram Express departing to Lahore from Karachi Cantt. Station
Train platform at Rohri Junction
Train platform at Sahiwal Junction
The total length of railway tracks in Pakistan is 5,072 miles (8,163 km).
Major stations and junctions
A platform at Lahore Railway Station
Alexendria bridge in Chenab River Gujrat
A turning train..
Peshawar,Darya Khan,Mianwali,Bhakkar,Muzaffargarh,Kaloorkot,Nowshehra Junction,
Attock,Rawalpindi City,Mandra Junction,Jhelum,Lalamusa Junction,Malikwal Junction,
Gujrat,Wazirabad Junction,Gujranwala,Sialkot Junction,Shahdra Junction,
Lahore Junction,Lahore Cantt,Raiwind Junction,Okara,Sahiwal,Chichawatni,
Mianchannu,Khanewal Junction,Shershah Junction,Multan Cantt,Lodhran Junction,Bahawalpur,Samasatta Junction,Ahmed Pur East Junction,
Khanpur Junction,Rahim Yar Khan,Sadiqabad,Pannu Aqil Cantt,Rohri Junction,Khairpur,Mehrabpur Junction,Padidan Junction,Bhiria Road,
Nawabshah Junction,Tandu Adam,Tandu Adam Junction,
Hyderabad Junction,Kotri Junction,Jangshahi,
Landhi Junction,Karachi Cantt. Station,
Karachi City Station,
Quetta City,Spezand Junction,Mach,Aab-e-Gum,Sibi Junction,Dera Murad Jamali,
Jacobabad Junction,Shikarpur,Sukkar,Rohri Junction,Khairpur,Bhiria Road,
Nawabshah,Tandu Adam,Hyderabad Junction,Kotri Junction,Jangshahi,
Landhi Junction,Karachi Cantt. Station,
Karachi City Station,
Iran - A broad gauge railway line runs from Zahedan to Quetta, and a standard gauge line is finished from Zahedan to Kerman in central Iran, linking with the rest of the Iranian rail network. On May 18, 2007, a MOU for rail cooperation was signed by Pakistan and Iran under which the line will be completed by December 2008. Now that the rail systems are linked up at Zahedan, there is a break-of-gauge between the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways standard gauge tracks and Pakistan Railways broad gauge.
India - Thar Express and the more famous Samjhauta Express international trains from Lahore, Pakistan to Amritsar, India.
Afghanistan - Currently there is no rail link to Afghanistan since no railway network is present in that country, however Pakistan Rail has proposed to help build a Afghani Rail Network in three phases. The first phase will stretch from the Chaman to Spin Boldak in Afghanistan. The second phase will extend line to Kandahar and the third phase will eventually connect to Herat. From there, the line will be extended to Khushka, Turkmenistan. The final phase would link 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) gauge with Central Asian 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 5⁄6 in) gauge. It is not clear where the break-of-gauge station will be. The proposed line will also be connected the port town of Gwadar via Dalbadin and Taftan, thus connecting the port town to Central Asia.
China - There is no link with China however, on February 28, 2007 contracts were awarded for feasibility studies on a proposed line from Havelian via the Khunjerab Pass at 4730 m above sea level, to the Chinese railhead at Kashgar, a distance of about 750 km.
Turkey - A Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad passenger rail service was proposed recently. Meanwhile a container train service was launched by the Prime Minister of Pakistan Yousuf Raza Gilani between Islamabad and Istanbul on 14 August 2009. The first train carried 20 containers with a capacity of around 750 t (738 LT; 827 ST) and will travel 6,500 km (4,000 mi) from Islamabad, through Tehran, Iran and on to Istanbul in two weeks' time. According to the Minister for Railways Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, after the trial of the container train service, a passenger train will be launched. There are also hopes the route will eventually provide a link to Europe and Central Asia, and carry passengers.
Turkmenistan - via Afghanistan
Passenger traffic comprises 50% of the total revenue annually. During 1999-2000, this amounted to Rs. 4.8 billion. Pakistan Railways carries 65 million passengers annually and daily operates 228 mail, express and passenger trains. Daily, PR carries an average of 178,000 people. Pakistan Railways also operates special trains during occasions such as Eid ul Fitr, Eid ul Azha and Independence Day.
The Freight Business Unit, with 12,000 personnel, operates over 200 freight stations on the railway network. The Unit serves the Ports of Karachi and Bin Qasim as well as all four provinces of the country and generates revenue from the movement of agricultural, industrial and imported products such as petroleum oil & lubricants (POL), wheat, coal, fertilizer, rock phosphate, cement and sugar. About 39% of the revenue is generated from the transportation of POL products, 19% from imported wheat, fertilizer and rock phosphate. The remaining 42% is earned from domestic traffic.
The Freight Business Unit offers services to meet customer requirements and reduce costs through efficiency, innovation and modernization. All possible efforts are made to increase revenues and pass on the benefits to customers. The Freight Business Unit is headed by an additional General Manager.
The Freight Rates structure is based on market trends, particularly of road transport, which is the Railways' main competitor. The freight rates are no longer rigid but flexible, depending on the lead, peak-off peak season, and quantum offered.
Wikinews has related news: Pakistan to Turkey container train service launched
on August 14, 2009 by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani between Islamabad and Istanbul via Tehran. The first train carried 20 containers with a capacity of around 750 t (738 LT; 827 ST) and will travel 6,500 km (4,000 mi) from Islamabad, through Tehran, Iran and on to Istanbul in two weeks' time. According to the Minister for Railways Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, after the trial of the container train service, a passenger train will be launched. There are also hopes the route will eventually provide a link to Europe and Central Asia, and carry passengers.
Pakistan Locomotive Factory, Risalpur
The Pakistan Locomotive Factory at Risalpur, a public spread on an area of 251 acres (102 ha), was put into service in 1993 with the collaboration of Government of Japan at a total cost of Rs.2284.00 million, including a foreign exchange component of Rs.1496.00 million. The factory can produce two diesel-electric locomotives per month on single-shift basis, but this can be doubled by introducing a second working shift. The factory is equipped with the state-of-the-art equipment which can be employed in the building of diesel-electric locomotives of suitable horsepower, as well as electric locomotives with minor adjustments.
Since 1993, twenty three PHA-20 type 2,000 hp (1,491 kW) diesel-electric locomotives have rolled out of the factory. The ongoing project of 3,000 hp (2,237 kW) AGE-30 diesel-electric locomotives is at the verge of its completion, which is a milestone in the history of the factory. Apart from manufacturing new locomotives, the Pakistan Locomotive Factory has also successfully rehabilitated five diesel-electric locomotives of GRU-20 Type and manufactured other various spares/components for railway maintenance divisions and rehabilitation projects.
Pakistan Railways still suffers from a mixture of gauges, 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) and 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in), but this is being gradually tackled by converting the narrow gauge lines to broad gauge, with little narrow gauge remaining.
Sukkur rail disaster
The Sukkur rail disaster occurred on January 4, 1990 in the village of Sangi near Sukkur in the Sindh Province of Pakistan. 307 people were killed making it Pakistan's worst rail disaster. The train (Bahaudddin Zakaria Express) concerned was on a 500-mile overnight run from Multan to Karachi and was carrying many more passengers in its 16 carriages than its 1408 seat capacity. It was supposed to pass straight through the village of Sangi but incorrectly set points sent it into a siding where it collided with an empty 67-car freight train at a speed of at least 35 mph.
Ghotki train crash
In its worst accident in recent years, three passenger trains collided on 13 July 2005, derailing 13 carriages and leaving at least 120 dead. The Karachi Express ran into the back of the Quetta Express while it was stopped at a station near Ghotki, and the Tezgam Express travelling in the opposite direction hit several of the derailed carriages. According to officials, the conductor of the Karachi Express misread a signal.
Wikinews has related news: Train crash in southern Pakistan kills more than a hundred
Super Parcel Express
On 21 August 2005, the upcountry Super Parcels Express derailed while crossing the Malir Bridge near Landhi in the Karachi Division. Eight bogies were substantially damaged when an axle broke due to over loading. The rail traffic was suspended for 24 hours. All down trains were terminated at Landhi and the rakes and the locos made the turn around from Landhi.
Mehrabpur train derailment
On 19 December 2007, the train, Karachi Express, an express service from Karachi to Lahore, derailed near the town of Mehrabpur in the Sindh province of Pakistan. At around 2:25 a.m. local time, fourteen of the train's sixteen carriages left the tracks, some being mangled by the crash, others simply sliding down an embankment into the water. Sabotage and terrorism were ruled out as the reason for the crash, with officials believing a faulty track was the cause of the derailment.
In March 2010, the Pakistani government announced plans to split Pakistan Railways into four privatised businesses; focussed on passenger operations, freight, infrastructure, and manufacturing.
In 2006 it was announced that a railway line between Gwadar and Quetta will be built and the Bostan-Zhob narrow-gauge railway line will be converted into broad gauge in 2007 at a cost of US$1.25 billion. Plans to increase train speeds, install more lengths of double track and to convert the country's railways to standard gauge are also currently under work.
In addition, there are several ongoing expansion plans into Central Asia and electrification of the entire Pakistan Railways, estimated at a worth of about $2 billion over the next five years (from 2005 to 2010).
In 2008, Pakistan Railways announced a plan of the construction of a $1 billion high-speed railway line between Punjab and Sindh.
Establishing direct rail connections with China were announced by Pervez Musharraf in 2006.
Wikinews has related news: Pakistan to Turkey container train service launched
In Spring 2009, a rail link between Quetta and Zahedan was constructed and allowed Pakistan Railways direct access to Europe and the Middle East. The gauge changing station was constructed to the standard gauge at Zahedan and the Turkish Lake Van train ferry (soon to be bypassed) and the Marmaray Tunnel under the Bosphorus. It is planned to run container trains and through passenger trains. Pakistan plans to convert the Quetta line to standard gauge eventually.
Pakistan awarded a Rs72 million (US$1.2 million) contract to an international consortium to carry out a feasibility study for establishing a rail link with China to boost trade relations between the two countries.
The study will cover a 750-kilometre section between Havellian and the 4,730-metre-high Khunjerab Pass over Mansehra district and the Karakoram Highway. Havellian is already linked with the rest of the rail network in Pakistan; the Chinese will lay some 350 km of track within their own territory from Kashgar terminus up to the Khunjerab Pass, linking Pakistan with China's rail network, largely following the route of the Karakoram Highway.
By expanding its stake in Pakistan's rail sector, China is poised to exploit the country's advantageous geographical position - strategically located at the confluence of South, Central and West Asia.
Beijing's involvement in several rail projects in Pakistan is motivated primarily by commercial considerations, but it also sees distinct advantages for its improved transportation and access to Central Asia and the Persian Gulf states. A reliable network of road and rail links can only ensure China's access to energy-rich central Asia, serving it both commercially and strategically.
In the first week of this month, Pakistan Railways and China's Dong Fang Electric Supply Corp signed an agreement for establishing a rail link between Havellian and Khunjerab. Ingenieurgemeinschaft Lasser-Feizlmayr (ILF), a consortium of consultant engineers from Austria, Germany and Pakistan, is to submit its report to the Ministry of Railways in nine months. It is most likely that the distance between Havellian and Khunjerab will involve the construction of tunnels. The ILF services encompass both the construction of new high-speed railway lines and the modernization of existing lines for standard-gauge and narrow-gauge railways in addition to tunnels.
China is actively involved in the development of Pakistan Railways and for the past five years it has been increasing its stake in the country's communication sector. Pakistan Railways is a state-owned company that provides an important mode of transportation in the furthest corners of the country. It has been a great integrating force and forms the lifeline of the country by catering to its needs for large-scale movement of people. The freight-passenger earnings comprise 50% of the railway's total revenue. Pakistan Railways carries 65 million passengers annually and operates 228 mail, express and passenger trains daily. It introduced new mail and express trains between major terminals from 2003 to 2005.
Pakistan Railways has recently entered several agreements with Chinese railway companies for its development. In 2001, Pakistan Railways signed a $91.89 million contract with China National Machinery Import and Export Corp for the manufacture of 175 new high-speed passenger coaches. The project was funded by Exim Bank China on a supplier credit basis. Forty completely built passenger coaches have been received and 105 will be assembled in Pakistan Railways' carriage factory by next December.
These coaches are being used on Pakistan Railways' mail and express trains from Rawalpindi-Lahore-Karachi, Lahore-Faisalabad and Rawalpindi-Quetta. The manufacturing kits for the remaining 30 coaches have also been received and manufacturing is in progress. With 12 already assembled, the project is scheduled to be completed by next month. The passenger coaches are of the latest design and are equipped with disc brakes. The technology transfer for these coaches has been obtained from China's Chang Chun Car Co.
Under an agreement signed with China in 2003, Pakistan Railways purchased 69 locomotives, of which 15 were delivered as completely built units and are in use by Pakistan Railways. The remaining 54 are to be built at Pakistan Railways' locomotive factory. The Chinese locomotives are 37% cheaper than the European locomotives.
Some in Pakistan have been criticizing the faulty locomotives purchased by Pakistan Railways from Dong Fang Electric Corp of China. It is surprising that last year, Pakistan Railways decided to purchase 45 more 2,000-3,000-horsepower locomotives from the same company. The company is willing to redesign the already-delivered 30 locomotives of the original order, such that the underframe is strengthened and the weight reduced to less than 140 tons. Last year, as a result of an open bidding, a Chinese company, Beijing Research and Design Institute, is committed to providing 300 rail cars to Pakistan Railways.
Under another agreement signed in 2004 with China National Machinery and Equipment Group, the Chinese company is to undertake the construction of Corridor 1 of a light-rail mass-transit system for Karachi that is intended to serve 4 million commuters. The project will cost about $568 million and take four and a half years to complete. The contract has been awarded on a build-operate-transfer basis and comprises five corridors.
Pakistan signed a series of agreements with China during the past three years to enhance the capability of its railway system. Under an agreement signed between Pakistan and China Railway, a Chinese company will provide 1,300 freight cars to Pakistan Railways, of which 420 will be manufactured in China and the remaining 880 will be produced at the Moghalpura railway workshops in Lahore.
Under another project, 450 passenger coaches will be rehabilitated at an estimated cost of Rs2.14 billion. The project also includes the conversion of 40 coaches into air-conditioned cars and the conversion of 10 power vans. Furthermore, there is a provision of 100 new high-speed bogies, 30 of which will be imported from China, while 70 will be manufactured locally on a transfer-of-technology basis. Under a separate agreement, 175 new passenger coaches are being purchased from China.
As part of a $100 million agreement signed between Pakistan and China in November 2001, China is to export 69 modern locomotive engines to Pakistan to modernize Pakistan's railway fleet. The first eight engines have been completed and are ready for shipment to Karachi. The new engines consume less fuel than older models and are cheaper to maintain. The main feature of this deal is that the first 15 engines will be manufactured in China and the remainder will be assembled in Pakistan, with spare parts and technology provided by China. Similarly, for a Rs7.2 billion railway project in Sindh province involving laying 78,000 tons of rails, China delivered 64,000 tons to Pakistan Railways.
As a part of its development plan for its transport and communications network, Pakistan Railways has completed a feasibility study of the Chaman-Kandahar section for laying railway tracks between Pakistan and Turkmenistan through Afghanistan. The feasibility study for cost, engineering and design for the construction of a rail link from Gwadar to the existing rail network in Mastung district in Balochistan has also been finalized. The new link to Gwadar port will open up underdeveloped areas of Balochistan for development. The main aim of the venture is to connect the Central Asian republics with Pakistan Railways' network through Afghanistan.
China is going to be the beneficiary of Gwadar's most accessible international trade routes to the Central Asian republics and Xinjiang. By extending its East-West Railway from the Chinese border city of Kashi to Peshawar in Pakistan's northwest, Beijing can receive cargo to and from Gwadar along the shortest route, from Karachi to Peshawar. The rail network could also be used to supply oil from the Persian Gulf to Xinjiang. Pakistan's internal rail network can also provide China with rail access to Iran.