LAHORE - The NLC-imported 10 Korean locomotives worth $13 million have been declared unfit for operation on the railway track by the top engineers of the public utility after repeated inspections, TheNation has learnt.
National Logistic Cell had purchased the refurbished locomotives (GMU-30 model) from Korean company, KORAIL, for around $13 million after an agreement was signed with Pakistan Railways in early 2013, to launch a freight train service to transport imported goods from Karachi to other up-country destinations on public-private-partnership basis.
The sources disclosed four inspections were conducted by grade 19 and 20 engineers of the Railways, who found the Korean locomotives unsuitable to operate on the railway track.
“The locomotives cannot pass the brake signal driver-to-guard test as they don’t have such inbuilt system,” the sources pointed out. “All the Railways-owned locomotives operating currently are equipped with this necessary arrangement without which they cannot be put on track,” they said, adding KORAIL GMU, 30 model Korean locomotives, cannot be upgraded with this system.
In plain language, when a driver applies brake, its pressure passes through all coaches and reaches the end, and the guard gives the green signal to the driver for departure. But the Korean locomotives don’t have such mechanism, though they are operating successfully on Korean standard gauge. “The requirements of our tracks are different which were not taken into account while making the purchase,” a railway engineer said, seeking anonymity. Interestingly, the locomotives were cleared by a team of NLC and railway engineers when Korean engineers were converting the medium gauge locomotives into broad gauge, but the basic thing was neglected at that time. “Now engineers are being sent by the authorities on daily basis for inspection of the locomotives to cover the matter to save the skin of those engineers who earlier declared them fit,” said the sources.
A high official, seeking anonymity, told this scribe that these locomotives would ultimately become liability of Pakistan Railways, another big blow which the department would face after the episode of the Chinese locomotives imported in the Pervez Musharraf era.
Railways GM (Operations) Anjum Pervez did not pick the phone despite repeated attempts and messages sent to him to get his version. Chief Marketing Officer Zubair Shafi Ghori however said it’s the mechanical department’s business.