Pakistan Railways (reporting mark PR) (Urdu: پاکستان ریلویز) is a national state-owned railway company of Pakistan. Founded in 1861 and headquartered in Lahore, it owns 7,400 miles (11,881 km) of track across Pakistan, stretching from Torkham to Karachi and operates both freight and passenger train services. Pakistan Railways was formerly also known as the Pakistan Western Railway from 1947 and 1974.
In 2014, the Ministry of Railways launched "Pakistan Railways Vision 2025" which seeks to reinvigorate Pakistan Railways by increasing its share in the transportation sector from 4% to 20% by 2025 along with the ₨886.68 billion (US$8.4 billion) China–Pakistan Economic Corridor railway upgrade. The plan includes the acquisition of new locomotives, development and improvement of current rail infrastructure, increase of average train speeds, improvements of punctuality and expansion of passenger services. The first phase of the project was completed in 2017, while the second phase will be completed by 2021. Pakistan Railways is an active member of the International Union of Railways.
The history of rail transport in Pakistan covers the period beginning in 1855 during the British Raj, when several railway companies began laying track and operating in what is today Pakistan, and ending during the present-day nationalised company under the name of Pakistan Railways. The railway system in Pakistan was originally built as a patchwork of local rail links operated by small private railway companies. These included the Scinde Railway, Punjab Railway, Delhi Railway and Indus Steam Flotilla companies. In 1870, these 4 companies were amalgamated into the Scinde, Punjab & Delhi Railway company. Shortly thereafter, several other railways lines were built including the Indus Valley State Railway, Punjab Northern State Railway, Sind–Sagar Railway, Sind–Pishin State Railway, Trans–Baluchistan Railway and Kandahar State Railway. These 6 companies along with the Scinde, Punjab & Delhi Railway company merged to form the North Western State Railway in 1880. Between 1880 and 1947, the North Western State Railway expanded throughout Punjab and Sindh.
In 1947, when Pakistan achieved its independence from Britain, the majority of the North Western State Railway infrastructure fell under Pakistan's territory and was renamed to Pakistan Western Railway. In East Bengal, portions of the Assam Bengal Railway fell under Pakistan's territory and was thus renamed to Pakistan Eastern Railway. During the early years after independence, the railway system underwent reorganisation, some of which proved controversial. Pakistan adopted 8,122 kilometres (5,047 mi) of the North Western State Railway - of this 6,880 kilometres (4,280 mi) was 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in), 506 kilometres (314 mi) was 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in), and 736 kilometres (457 mi) was 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) narrow gauge.
From 1948, usage of railways increased and the network became profitable. From 1950 to 1955, the Mashriq-Maghreb Express operated from Koh-e-Taftan in West Pakistan to Chittagong in East Pakistan, using Indian railway track and rolling stock for a 1986 km (1245 miles) journey between Attari and Benapole. In 1954, a branch line was extended from the Karachi–Peshawar Railway Line to Mardan and Charsada. In 1956, the Jacobabad-Kashmore 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) gauge line was converted to 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge. In 1974, Pakistan Western Railways was renamed to Pakistan Railways. The Kot Adu-Kashmore section of the Kotri–Attock Railway Line was constructed between 1969 and 1973 providing an alternative route from Karachi to northern Pakistan. In February 2006, the 126 km Hyderabad–Khokhrapar Branch Line was converted to 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in).
On 8 January 2016, the Lodhran–Raiwind Branch Line double rail project was completed. Subsequently, all the metre gauge and narrow gauge tracks were either converted to 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge or dismantled. Over the years Pakistan Railways has been criticized for its deteriorating quality of services and declining number of passengers and trains. The railway used to be the predominant mode of transportation in Pakistan until 1965. At its peak between 1955 and 1960, PR handled 73% of freight traffic, compared to less than 4% in 2015. During the 1970s, Pakistan Railways also had the largest passenger carrier share in transportation. Unfortunately, its role as a catalyst for economic development has received a setback due to significant under-investment by successive governments who preferred investment in road infrastructure at the cost of railways. Declining passenger numbers and financial losses in the late 1980s to early 1990s prompted the closure of many branch lines and small stations. The 1990s saw severe cuts in rail subsidies and mismanagement within the company. Due to falling passenger numbers, rail subsidies from the government are necessary to keep the railways financially viable.
Pakistan Railways is a state-owned enterprise under the Ministry of Railways (MoR) of the Government of Pakistan, tasked and primarily responsible for planning, administrating, and establishing the passengers rail services as well as regulating railway companies and industries. Overall, the control of Pakistan Railways, policy and development are managed and administrated by the ministry. From 1947 to 1959, the Pakistan Western Railway and Pakistan Eastern Railway were administered through the Railway Division of the Ministry of Communications. The division was headed by the Director General of Railways (DG Railways) within the ministry. In 1959, an ordinance bill was passed in the parliament underlying the need for the creation of a semi-autonomous Railway Board. The board was perceived in accordance with the principal powers of the Central Government as stipulated in the Railways Act IX of 1890. After the first session of the third national assembly, president Ayub Khan issued a presidential order (PO 33) on 9 June 1962. The presidential order instructed for the transfer of control of both railways, PWR and PER, from the Central Government to the provincial governments of West Pakistan and East Pakistan respectively. When the presidential order came into effect on 1 July 1962, concurrent Railway Boards were established by both provinces, repealing the original Railway Board Ordinance of 1959.
The presidential order also reinstated the formerly discarded Separation Convention, whereby the railway finances were ultimately separated from the general finances for the fiscal year 1961-62 and thereafter, giving each board increased autonomy. In 1974, the Ministry of Railways was created to look after planning, policy-making, technical advisory service and management of the railway. In 1982, the Ministry of Railways was merged with the Railway Board under a presidential order, resulting in the federal ministry as it stands to date.
The Railway Board functioned from 1959 to 2000 and was modified with addition of the "Executive Committee of Railway Board" between 2000 and 2014. However, the Railway Board was reconstituted again on 20 February 2015. The Minister of Railways Secretary serves as the official chairman of the Pakistan Railway Board. The autonomous board consists of:
Pakistan Railways comprises three functional units:
The operating unit of Pakistan Railways is divided into 3 main departments. The Infrastructure Department which oversees civil engineering, signaling, telecommunications, design and the directorate of property. The Mechanical Engineering Department which oversees mechanical engineering, purchasing, stores and electrical engineering and the Traffic Department which oversees passenger facilities, operations, marketing and the directorate of information technology. Several smaller departments also fall under the operating unit, including the Personnel Department, Railways Police Department, Planning Department, Directorate of Legal Affairs, Directorate of Public Relations and the Pakistan Railways Academy.
Pakistan Railway comprises seven territorial operating divisions:
Pakistan Railways currently has 190 working diesel-electric locomotives. The average life of the entire fleet (465 DE locomotives) is 25 years and they are serviced at the Pakistan Locomotive Factory.
In January 2016, Pakistan Railways ordered 800 hopper wagons from CRRC Jinan Railway Vehicles Equipment company. The first 205 wagons will be built in China and the following 595 wagons will be assembled in Pakistan at Moghalpura Railway Workshops. The wagons will carry coal to power stations at Karachi and Qadirabad.
The Pakistan Locomotive Factory was established in Risalpur in 1993, at a total cost of ₨228.4 million (US$2.2 million), equipped with state-of-the-art machinery. The purpose of the factory was to manufacture indigenous diesel electric and electric locomotives, by maximizing local manufacturing of major assemblies and vital spare parts to meet with the demand of Pakistan Railways.
Pakistan Railways Carriage Factory, Islamabad was set up in 1970 under the technical collaboration of LHB, Germany for manufacture of passenger carriages. The capacity of the Factory is 150 passenger coaches per year on single shift basis.
The Moghalpura Railway Workshops are one of several rolling stock repair sites, located on the Lahore–Wagah Branch Line at Moghalpura Junction railway station (MGPR) in Lahore, Pakistan. The workshop complex began to emerge at its present site in 1904 in order to manufacture, repair and overhaul passenger coaches and freight wagons for the then North Western State Railway. After Pakistan's independence in 1947, it was the only state-of-the-art workshop for Pakistan Railways
Pakistan Railways owns five concrete sleeper factories in Sukkur, Khanewal, Kohat, Shahinabad[disambiguation needed] and Kotri. The first factory was established in Sukkur in 1967, while the remaining four factories were opened between 1979 and 1981.
Pakistan Railways network are divided into main lines and branch lines. The Karachi-Peshawar line serves as the main North-South line while the Rohri-Chaman line serves as the main East-West line.
Pakistan Railways owns 11,881 kilometres (7,383 mi) of tracks. All the tracks are 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) (broad gauge) barring some industrial railways. Pakistan Railways' broad gauge track axle load limit is 22.86 tonnes with exceptions at the Rohri-Chaman Railway Line (limit 17.78 tonnes) and Quetta-Taftan Railway Line (limit 17.27 tonnes). The maximum speed of trains on most railway lines is 120 km/h, however, certain upgraded sections of the Karachi-Peshawar Railway Line allow speeds up to 130 km/h. Work is in progress to upgrade all main lines to speeds up to 160 km/h.
Iran - Pakistan Railways is connected to the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways at Zahedan where a break-of-gauge exists between the 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) Quetta–Taftan Railway Line and the 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) Kerman–Zahedan line. The link was completed on 18 May 2007.
Afghanistan - There is no rail link to Afghanistan at the moment as Afghanistan does not have a railway network at present. Pakistan Railway has proposed to help build an Afghan rail network in three phases. Phase one would stretch from the Chaman to Spin Boldak, as an extension of the Rohri–Chaman Railway Line. Phase two would extend the line from Spin Boldak to Kandahar, while phase three would extend from Kandahar to Herat and on to Khushka, Turkmenistan, thus linking the 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) with the Central Asian 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in). It is not clear where the break-of-gauge station will be. Another proposal is to extend the Karachi-Peshawar Railway Line to Kabul via Jalalabad.
China - There is no rail link with China at present. On 28 February 2007, contracts were awarded for several feasibility studies on the Taxila–Khunjerab Railway Line, extending from Havelian via the Khunjerab Pass, to the Chinese railhead at Kashgar, a distance of about 750 km.
Turkey - The completion of the Pakistan-Iran link has made it possible, in principle, to run trains between Pakistan and Turkey via Iran. A container train trial service was launched by Prime Minister 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 long tons; 827 short tons)  and will travel 6,500 km (4,000 mi) from Islamabad, through Tehran, Iran and on wards to Istanbul. An Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad passenger rail service has also been proposed as well. In 2009, the Minister for Railways Ghulam Ahmad Bilour expressed hope that after the trial of the container train service, a passenger train will be launched. There are also hopes the route will provide a link to Europe and Central Asia in the future, and carry passengers.
Passenger traffic comprises 50% of the total revenue annually. During 1999-2000, this amounted to ₨4.8 billion (US$46 million). Pakistan Railways carried 52.2 million passengers in 2016 and operates 28 mail, express and passenger trains. Daily, Pakistan Railways carries an average of 178,000 people. Pakistan Railways also operates special trains during occasions such as Eid ul Fitr, Eid ul Azha, Independence Day and Raiwind Ijtema. The railway set up a website in the early 2000s to provide travelers with up-to-date information regarding seat availability, departures and arrivals. In 2016, online purchasing of tickets were added to the website and reservations were confirmed by an SMS.
Pakistan Railways has several classes of travel. Depending on the route, certain trains may only have a single class. The fares for all classes are different with unreserved seating class being the cheapest. The following table lists the classes in operation.
|AC Sleeper||Class Code = ACSL|
|AC Parlour||Class Code = PC|
|AC Business||Class Code = ACLZ|
|AC Standard||Class Code = ACL|
|First Class Sleeper||Class Code = ISL|
|Economy Class||Class Code = EC|
|Second Class||Class Code = SEC|
Pakistan Railways used to be the predominant mode of transportation for freight from the coastal ports to the interior. At their peak between 1955-1960, PR handled 73% of freight traffic in Pakistan, compared to less than 4% in 2015. The "Freight Business Unit" operates over 200 freight stations, including the Port of Karachi and Bin Qasim Port plus several dry ports in all four provinces of the country. With 12,000 personnel the unit generates revenue from the movement of agricultural, industrial and imported products such as petroleum oil & lubricants, wheat, coal, fertilizer, rock phosphate, cement and sugar from the ports to the interior. About 39% of the revenue is generated from the transportation of petroleum products, 19% from wheat, fertilizer and rock phosphate while the remaining 42% is earned from domestic traffic.
On 14 August 2009, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani launched a freight train between Islamabad and Istanbul via Tehran. The first trail train carried 20 containers with a capacity of 750 t (738 long tons; 827 short tons)  and would make the 6,500 km (4,000 mi) journey from Islamabad to Tehran, Iran and on to Istanbul in two weeks. In 2015, freight carried by Pakistan Railways increased to 3.3 million tons, a significant increase from years past.
There is complimentary Wi-Fi service available on the Green Line Express.
Several new railway lines have been proposed by Pakistan Railways to connect Gwadar Port to Central Asia. These include:
Over 1409 km of railway has been doubled since the "track doubling project" began in the 1990s. Sections of the Karachi–Peshawar Railway Line were first "doubled", as it was the busiest and longest railway line in the country.
In March 2010, the Pakistani government announced plans to split Pakistan Railways into four privatised businesses; focused on passenger operations, freight, infrastructure, and manufacturing. In February 2010, "unbundling" was proposed, with activities being outsourced, privatised, or operated separately. However, complete privatisation has been ruled out.
Pakistan Railways has faced a severe financial and management crisis under the ministership of Mr. Bilor. In those circumstances the department has met with private operators. In this pursuit Pakistan Railway has started several trains on a public-private partnership. Pakistan Business Express Train commenced its maiden Journey on 3 February. 2012 and Shalimar Express resumed its operation on 25 February 2012.
China is 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. 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 entered 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 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 Dongfang Electric Corporation of China. Pakistan Railways have 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. 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 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.
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 can exploit the country's advantageous geographical position at the confluence of south, central and west Asia. In the first week of February 2007, Pakistan Railways and China's Dongfang Electric Corporation 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 modernisation of existing lines for standard gauge railways in addition to tunnels. The pre-feasibility study was completed in July 2011.
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 finalised. 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 China's Xinjiang border region. By extending its East-West Railway from the Chinese border city of Kashi to Peshawar in Pakistan's northwest, Peking 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 Persia.