Even as the Indian Railways is disinclined to sell or lease out train engines to Pakistan because of "high domestic demand", the Indian public transporter is willing to do business with other neighbours including Bangladesh and Myanmar.
The railways is firming up agreements to sell 26 train engines to Pakistan and 40 meter gauge engines to Myanmar, sources said.
The supply of Indian train engines to these countries will begin this year, sources said.
As regards to Pakistan’s proposal, foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai attempts to salvage the situation, having written to chairman, Railway Board Vinay Mittal, asking him to ensure that railways officials "willingly interacts with the Pakistani delegation" in this matter.
Mathai's letter is seen in the context of the Pakistan government's plans to send a bigger railways delegation to India in the foreseeable future to pursue the proposal of buying or taking on lease about 100 train engines from India.
For the records, railways officials maintained that talks on the Pakistani proposal had "not broken down" and that all options (sale or lease of train engines) were still open. "Such matters are decided at the diplomatic level", they said.
Approximately 500 train engines (250 each of the diesel and electric variants) are annually manufactured by the railways, while the domestic requirement is for approximately 800 engines (4,000 each of the diesel and electric types).
Despite the scarcity of engines, the Indian Railways have been annually exporting around 20 million engines each year. In past years, the railways has sold engines to countries including Sri Lanka, Angola, Vietnam and Jordan.
The railways is disinclined to do business with Pakistan because of prevailing perceptions that it will be difficult for the neighbouring country to maintain the train engines — given that their maintenance sheds are in a shambles.