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Pakistan Railway

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Pakistan Railway

Template:Use Pakistani English This article is about the rail company in Pakistan. For technical details and operations see: Transport in Pakistan.

Pakistan Railways
Departmental Undertaking of The Ministry of Railways, Government of Pakistan
Industry Railroad
Founded 1947
Headquarters Lahore, Punjab
Area served Pakistan
Services Passenger railways
freight services
parking lot operations
other related services
Revenue PKR 18,612 Million (2010-2011) [1]
Owner(s) Government of Pakistan (100%)
Employees 82,424 (2010-2011)[1]

Pakistan Railways (reporting mark PR) (Urdu: پاکستان ریلویز ‎) 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. Pakistan Railway 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.

Current State

Pakistan, despite its moderate size, has a largely dysfunctional railway system. Negligence by the last government during 2008-2013 has led the Pakistan Railways down rapidly. As of mid-2011, it was decided to stop all goods train haulage due to severe shortage of locomotives and fuel. The financially bankrupt organization, despite bailouts, has not been able to emerge from its troubles leading to cancellation of as many as 115 railway services. The decision has left ordinary Pakistanis at the mercy of bus operators for long distance travel. As of 2011, the PR network cancelled many trains and AC services in many trains were stopped. On 29 December 2011, PR restored freight train service from Karachi to upcountry.[2] [3] [4]

Since 2007, It operates trains completely by Diesel locomotives when electric locos were grounded but on 31 October 2013 but Lahore High court directed railways to make policy for restoration of Electric locos too.[5]

Now the new Government and new Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique is trying to revive railways.


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 13 May 1861, the first railway line was opened to the public, between Karachi and Kotri, with a total length of 169 kilometres (105 mi). A Lahore-Multan 336 kilometres (209 mi) railway line was opened for traffic on 24 April 1865. On 6 October 1876 three bridges on the Ravi, Chenab and Jhelum rivers were completed and a Lahore-Jhelum railway line opened. On 1 July 1878 a Lodhran-Pano Akil 334 kilometres (208 mi) section was inaugurated.

By 1886, there were four railway companies operating in what would become Pakistan: 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 Railway, which was later on renamed North Western Railway (NWR). It was renamed Pakistan Western Railway in February 1961 and Pakistan Railways in May 1974.

It was the year 1857 when the idea was suggested by William Andrew (Chairman of Scinde, Punjab and Delhi Railway) that the railways to the Bolan Pass would have a strategic role in responding to any threat by Russia. During the second Afghan War (1878–80) between Britain and Afghanistan, there was a new need to construct a railway line up to Quetta in order to get easier access to the frontier. On 18 September 1879, under the orders of the Viceroyal council, work begun on laying the railway tracks, and after four months the first 215 km of line from Ruk to Sibi was completed; it became operational in January 1880. Beyond Sibi the terrain was very difficult. After immense difficulties and harsh weather conditions, it was March 1887 when the railway line, over 320 km long, finally reached Quetta.[6]

On 27 October 1878 a Kotri-Sukkur railway line on west bank of Indus river was opened for traffic. The Lansdowne Bridge over the Indus connecting Rohri and Sukkur was inaugurated on 25 March 1889. The completion of this bridge connected Karachi with Peshawar by rail.

By 1898, as the network began to grow, another proposed railway line from Peshawar to Karachi was in the works. 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 the 19th century and the early 20th century.

In 1947, at the time of independence, 3,133 route kilometres (1,947 mi) of the North Western Railway were transferred to India, leaving 8,122 route kilometres (5,048 mi) to Pakistan. Of this 6,880 route kilometres (4,280 mi) were broad gauge, 506 kilometres (314 mi) were metre gauge, and 736 kilometres (457 mi) were narrow gauge.[7][8]

In 1954, the railway line was extended to Mardan and Charsada, and in 1956 the Jacobabad-Kashmore 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. In February 2006 the Mirpur Khas-Khokhrapar 126 km metre gauge railway line was converted to broad gauge .


Pakistan Railways has been the subject of a number of investigations by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Pakistan’s elite anti-corruption agency, after concerns were raised about contracts relating to the repair, upgrade and purchase of locomotives; unauthorised payments of over Rs220 million from its Accounts Department; the disposal of scrap; and the theft of consignments from cargo trains. In 2012 it was reported that these cases were referred to the NAB for investigation by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.[9]

In March 2012, Pakistan Railways’ ex-General Manager, was arrested by the NAB on charges of misuse of authority and alleged involvement in the misappropriation of Rs600 million, relating to the sale of scrap at a below market value rate.[10] In 2002, there was report compiled by some foreign investors about the assets of Pakistan Railways which estimates 18000 Billion USD but it was not confirmed by Government of Pakistan. According to the government resource, it worths more than the estimation.

Former Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour was also involved in corruption and he has been named in a multi-billion scrap scandal, currently being investigated by National Accountability Bureau (NAB).[11] He also allotted railway Dining cars to their Friends & Party Workers without tender.[12] He has strong allegations from peoples that he was destroying railways to support Transport Mafia.[13]

Track gauge

Pakistan Railways had a mixture of gauges, including Indian or broad gauge (), metre gauge (), and narrow gauge (). A few metre gauge and narrow gauge railway lines have been converted into broad gauge, and the remaining lines have been dismantled or abandoned. Now only broad gauge railway lines are operational in Pakistan Railways network.

Axle load limit

Pakistan Railways broad gauge track axle load limit is 22.86 tonnes except Rohri-Quetta & Quetta-Chaman railway lines on which axle load limit is 17.78 tonnes and Spezand-Zahedan railway line on which axle load limit is 17.27 tonnes.


The maximum Speed of Pakistan Railways is 120 km/h. Some sections of Karachi-Lahore main railway line allow 120 km/h speed. Work is in progress to improve railway track on Karachi-Khanpur section to increase speed to 140 km/h.

Important railway lines



Karakoram Express departing to Lahore from Karachi Cantt. Station
Train platform at Rohri Junction
Train platform at Sahiwal Junction
A platform at Lahore Railway Station
Alexendria bridge in Chenab River Gujrat
A turning train entering the Rohri Station
Pir Mahal Railway Station board.
This type of board is used at all railway stations in Pakistan
Lalamusa Junction railway station
Steam engine train at Malakwal
Subak Raftar Express at Lalamusa Junction railway station

Important domestic routes

Important railway stations

Karachi-Peshawar main line:

Rohri-Quetta line:

Others lines:

Proposed lines

International routes

Iran 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 18 May 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.[14]

India India - Thar Express to Karachi and the more famous Samjhauta Express international train from Lahore, Pakistan to Amritsar (Attari) and Delhi, India.

Afghanistan Afghanistan - Currently there is no rail link to Afghanistan, however the two countries have planned to build it in the near future. The first phase will stretch from the Chaman to Spin Boldak in Afghanistan. The second phase will extend the line to Kandahar and the third phase will eventually connect to Herat. From there, the line can be extended to Central Asia. It is not clear where the break-of-gauge station will be.[15] The proposed line is expected to connect to the port town of Gwadar via Dalbadin and Taftan.

China China - There is no link with China however, on 28 February 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.[16]

Turkey Turkey - An Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad passenger rail service was proposed recently.[17] Meanwhile a container train service was launched by the former 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 long tons; 827 short tons) [18] and will travel 6,500 km (4,000 mi) from Islamabad, through Tehran, Iran and on to Istanbul in two weeks' time.[19] According to the Minister for Railways Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, after the trial of the container train service, a passenger train will be launched.[20] There are also hopes the route will eventually provide a link to Europe and Central Asia, and carry passengers.[21]

Turkmenistan Turkmenistan - via Afghanistan (proposed) - avoiding standard gauge (or narrow gauge) intervening[14]



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, Independence Day and Raiwind Ijtema.


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.

As on 14 August 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 long tons; 827 short tons) [18] and will travel 6,500 km (4,000 mi) from Islamabad, through Tehran, Iran and on to Istanbul in two weeks' time.[19] According to the Minister for Railways Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, after the trial of the container train service, a passenger train will be launched.[20] There are also hopes the route will eventually provide a link to Europe and Central Asia, and carry passengers.[21][22]

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 was initially equipped with modern equipment for building diesel-electric locomotives, as well as electric locomotives with minor adjustments.[23]

Since 1993, twenty three PHA-20 type 2,000 hp (1,491 kW) diesel-electric locomotives have rolled out of the factory.[23] 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.[23] 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.


  • Sukkur rail disaster
    • The Sukkur rail disaster occurred on 4 January 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.[24] The train (Bahauddin Zakaria Express) concerned was on a 500-mile (800 km) 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 travelling in the opposite direction hit several of the derailed carriages. According to officials, the conductor of the Karachi Express misread a signal.[25]
  • 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.[26]

Future developments


In March 2010, the Pakistani government announced plans to split Pakistan Railways into four privatised businesses; focussed on passenger operations, freight, infrastructure, and manufacturing.[27] In February 2010, "unbundling" was proposed, with various activities being outsourced, privatised, or operated separately. However, complete privatisation has been ruled out.[28]

New lines

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 build Gwadar to Chabahar line to standard gauge are also currently under way.

Breaks of gauge

There are proposals of the break-of-gauge stations.

  • Inside Pakistan
    • / at Gwadar Port
  • Outside Pakistan
    • / in Russia and the Central Asian Republics, and at Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan
    • / at Kashgar, China

Track doubling

The Lodhran - Multan - Khanewal line (121 km) was dual-tracked; work began in 2003 and completed on 16-03-2007.

The Khanewal - Raiwind line (246 km) is currently being doubled, at a cost of Rs.8.326 billion. The project commenced in July 2005. The section from Khanewal to Sahiwal (119 km) has been opened as Double line section on 17-04-2010. The work of dualization of railway track from Raiwind to Pattoki also has been completed and Pattoki to Sahiwal section is in progress and is expected to be completed by December 2013.

The following lines are planned to be doubled:

  • Shahdara Bagh - Lalamusa
    • Total Length 126 km
    • Total Cost Rs.14136 million
    • Completion Period 03 years from the date of commencement
  • Shahdara Bagh - Faisalabad
    • Total Length 135 km
    • Total Cost Rs.10486 million
    • Completion Period 03 years from the date of commencement
  • Lalamusa - Chaklala
    • Total Length 152 km
    • Total Cost Rs.23770 million
    • Completion Period 04 years from the date of commencement
  • Golra Sharif - Peshawar Cantt
    • Total Length 160 km
    • Total Cost Rs.19560 million
    • Completion Period 04 years from the date of commencement

Public-private partnership

Pakistan Railways has faced severe financial and Management Crisis under the minister ship of Mr. Bilor. In those circumstances the Department has shake hand with Private Operators. In this pursuit Pakistan Railway has started several trains on 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.[29]

High-speed rail

In 2008, Pakistan Railways announced a plan of the construction of a $1 billion high-speed railway line between Punjab and Sindh[30]

International lines

Direct rail connections with China were proposed by Pervez Musharraf in 2006.[31]

A container train service from Pakistan to Turkey has been launched on 14 August 2009.[32]

China-Pakistan links

Main article: Khunjerab Railway

Karakoram railway

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.

Peking'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 February 2007, 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 modernisation of existing lines for standard-gauge and narrow-gauge railways in addition to tunnels.[33] The pre-feasibility study was completed in July 2011.[34]

General cooperation

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.

Gwadar link

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.

See also


External links

  • Official Website of Pakistan Railways
  • Pakistan Ministry of Railways
  • Pakistan Railways Heritage Society (PRHS)
  • Pakistani Train Spotters
  • Images of Pakistan Trains
  • Pakistan Railways on Google Maps: Current and planned tracks and major stations

Template:Railway stations in Pakistan

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