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    Tuesday, 13 March 2018

    Five Pak-Iran goods train bogies derail near Chagai

    Five bogies of Pak-Iran goods train derailed near Chot Koi area of district Chagai on Monday.Railway authorities told South Punjab News here today

    According to railway sources, the train loaded with rice was going to Zahidan (Iran) from Quetta. Pakistan Railways sources said the incident took place due to poor condition of the railway track which resulted in the suspension of Pak-Iran goods train service. Repair work started after the incident and it would be done as soon as possible, sources said.
    The poor condition of the Quetta-Taftan railway section caused many such incidents in the past.Pakistan and Iran have agreed to resume a fortnightly train service before Muharram in view of the improving regional security situation.

    Officials of the two neighbouring countries made the decision at a meeting held on Thursday. Under the proposal, the train’s final destination will be either Mashhad or Qom, Iran.The participants also decided to run 15 regular freight trains between Quetta and Zahedan, with a final schedule to be shared by the Iranian side.
    The two sides also discussed upgradation of Spezand and Taftan intersection. The meeting was informed that the upgradation of the intersection will be completed in the current year.
    It includes replacement of the track structure, converting of 183 dips into bridges, rehabilitating old bridges and improving the signalling system.
    Meanwhile, Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain and Iran’s Minister of Defence and Logistics Brigadier General Amir Hatami reviewed bilateral relations and discussed enhancing defence ties during the former’s visit to Tehran.
    Provincial Capitals of Quetta and Zahedan had been linked through the railway network more than 120 years ago to facilitate travelling and transportation of bulk cargo in the remote region. It was done by the British colonial rulers to make the colonial rule effective and also to facing security challenge in the remote border region.
    With the passage of time, the Quetta-Zahedan Section of British Railways lost importance as the region become a border of peace and not war. Now it is getting more importance with the development of trade and commence on larger scale.
    The present Iranian Government visualized this fact and filled the rail gap between Zahedan and Kerman linking the Iranian Balochistan with rest of the railway system in the region, including Central Asia and China. Last year a Chinese cargo trains with commercial goods reach Tehran from China confirming the facts that the railway line is functional and is in working condition. Thus, Iran took advantage of this facility and linked up Zahedan with Kerman and bridged the rail gap for ever.
    With this rail linkup, Pakistan failed to take the advantage in using the available facility for boosting trade with Iran, Turkey and other south European and Central Asian countries through this cheapest means of mass transport.
    Now there is a report in the newspapers that both Iran and Pakistan had agreed to operate 15 goods trains on Quetta-Zahedan section. It is a practice that the successive Governments in Pakistan offered lip service and failed to upgrade the most strategic railway section of Quetta-Zahedan.
    They will operate 15 trains without upgrading the track from small gauge line to broad gauge line or of the world standard. There is no life on more than a dozen railway stations from Quetta to Zahedan or border township of Daftan. Most of the railway stations had been abandoned decades ago and most of the staff had been withdrawn from most of the Railway stations. There is no facility available all along the rail track from Quetta to Daftan.
    Visibly, there is hardly any plan in our knowledge that the Government improving this railway track for operating more goods trains in coming months. Most of the decisions concluded in Iran-Pakistan parleys at all level were proved to be for the public consumption and the same were never implemented. Presumably, the Iran-Pakistan parleys are being use to pacify the dissatisfied Iran for political reasons.
    There is a need to upgrade the Quetta-Zahedan section if the Government is sincere and honest to make the Gwadar Port operational, sooner or later. A Port without a railway line is unimaginable. The Government Port should be linked with the Quetta-Zahedan railways somewhere close to Kuchaki near Naushki or somewhere close to Nokkundi, the mineral rich region of entire Pakistan.
    Gwadar Port should be linked up with the international railway system for making it a successful deepwater and mother port of the region. In such a case, Iran would be dependent on the Gwadar Port and its more efficient railway system if it is linked with Pakistani railway network somewhere close to Naushki or Nokkundi.
    If the Federal Government had no resources to upgrade the Quetta-Zahedan section, then it can seek help from the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank for financial and technical assistance. In the mid-1990s, the Asian Development Bank did offer a soft loan cum aid for connecting Gwadar with rail and road of Central Asian country of Turkmenistan.
    For this, the Asian Development Bank had earmarked 11.5 billion US dollar for railroad development of Gwadar Port and connecting it with Turkmenistan. Pakistan Government can renew the negotiation with the Asian Development for renewal of the soft credit to develop Gwadar Port in providing transit trade facilities to the landlocked Central Asian countries.
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