Pakistan Railways headed for disaster (Lead)

August 8th, 2011 - 3:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Aug 8 (IANS) Pakistan’s once efficient railway network, a relic from the British Raj, is inching towards collapse.

The system is suffering from decrepit engines, unsafe rails and dangerous bridges, the News International said Monday.

It takes “concentrated incompetence to break the national railway system as comprehensively as this”, it said in an editorial.

In the process, more and more trains run late or get cancelled, forcing disgusted passengers to opt for road transport, which too is crumbling, it said.

On Friday, the government approved Rs.10.1 billion to improve the railways but the paper warned that this may not help.

The railway system is at “a virtual standstill with broken or decrepit engines unable to haul clapped-out coaches along unsafe rails that cross dangerous bridges”.

It said “a long tradition of managerial mediocrity is now so institutionalised that it has become the norm… the railways will eventually fold completely”.

The editorial said: “The Rs.10.1 billion … would take weeks to filter through the system to the point at which it can be used to repair rolling stock or purchase the fuel to run engines, once repaired.”

Hundreds of thousands of people were opting for alternative transport.

“Their alternative is our crumbling road system using buses that are overcrowded and unsafe, driven by men who appear to have trained as kamikaze pilots.”

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