By the time Pakistan gained independence, the railway system in the subcontinent had already been built. The first railways line ever to be inaugurated was the one connecting Karachi and Kotri in the year 1847. From Kotri further on, the steam engine system used to start crossing over the Indus River. This 169 km long railway track fell under the ownership of the British who had arrived into the subcontinent. In 1869, it was opened to general public, making travelling easy back in those times. Later in 1886, four different railway companies were joined to make the North Western State Railways which is really the earlier form of Pakistan Railways.
Pakistan Railways | Current Scenario
Pakistan Railways has created its own world within its department. It has developed its own individual departments such as educational institutions, hospitals, residential colonies and so on. It even gets its own revenue and has personal courts where the magistrates hired fall under the Pakistan Railways employment.
In the city of Mardan, Pakistan Railways has a warehouse established on an area of 251 acres with the help of Japan and heavy budget. At first, the warehouse produced engines of 2000 horsepower model PHA-20 but with the passage of time started designing 3000 horsepower model AGE-30 diesel and electric engines and repairing them as well. It received with immense appreciation after which a factory was opened in Khanewal as well. In Rawalpindi, facility is available that takes care of passenger carriages and the one located in Mughalpura, Lahore has equal importance as well.
Pakistan Railways | Decline
When the reign of Dictator General Pervez Musharraf started, the decline of Pakistan Railways initiated. In his government, he distributed most of departments amongst his fellow army officers. According to this decision, the railway department fell under Director General Qazi Javed Ashraf. In his attempt to make the institution better, he made major administrational errors which resulted in a loss of Rs. 16 Billions.
The poor department had always been a victim of corruption, mismanagement and poor decisions. Even before this, the institution has never been able to achieve most of its aims and objectives. The proposal to construct a track leading all the way to Turkey was never seen to completion. Daily around 17,000 passengers travel through railways yet hardly any attempts are made to make their journeys comfortable. The trains are mostly late, the engines are old and require repairing, the tracks are not kept up to date and most of the days, strikes are declared.
The need to make Pakistan Railways better is immense. One needs to look at it as a social service rather than a means to an end; likely to earn money under the table. Considering it is one of the cheapest ways to travel and much preferred by the middle and lower classes of the society, steps should be taken immediately to improve it.