With the intention of acquiring locomotives from India to re-start its defunct train services, a three-member team of the Pakistan Railways Advisory and Consultancy Services Limited (PRACS), led by managing director Mohammed Junaid Quareshi, will arrive in the Capital for a two-day visit on Thursday.
As reported in the April 21 edition of the Hindustan Times, Pakistan has pitched an upgraded offer to buy or take on lease about 100 railway engines from India.
Of the 520 locomotives in the Pakistan Railways (PR), only 76 were operational in March 2012. An acute shortage of locomotives has forced the Pakistan Railways to suspend operations of as many as 128 passenger trains.
The PRACS team, comprising project director Mohammed Hyatt Malik and chief mechanical engineer Mobinuddin, will hold talks with its Indian counterparts at the Railway Infrastruture Technical and Economic Services (RITES). The team will also meet private players, including Escorts India Limited, to explore options of off-the-shelf purchase of compressors, braking systems and other components that the Pakistan Railways need to retrofit its defunct engines.
"This is an exploratory visit, which will be followed by a bigger delegation of the Pakistan Railways," sources said.
The relatively cheaper cost of Indian train engines has attracted Pakistan to the country. The manufacturing cost of a state-of-the-art engine comes up to $2.4 million in India, as opposed to the average cost of $ 3-4 million elsewhere.
The Pakistan Railways also wants to buy or lease older-generation train engines, which come at a much lesser price tag of $1.4 million.
Given the miserable state of finances in the Pakistan Railways, the option of taking engines on lease is considered more practical. Indian train engines are usually given out on lease for Rs. 900 per hour, or Rs. 21,600 per day.
They are also likely to discuss liberalised visas and diplomatic immunity for Indian Railways engineers visiting Pakistan to provide technical assistance.