LAHORE: The Pakistan Railways (PR) will receive relief goods-laden Turkish train in Iran’s Zahedan city by the end of this week as necessary arrangements have been made.

After transshipment at Zahedan, the train would bring the goods to Taftan likely on Sept 12, Dawn has learnt. The train carrying relief goods in 24 wagons was dispatched by the Turkish government on Aug 30 to the Pakistan government to help the flood-hit.

The train moved from Turkey’s capital Ankara and entered the territory of Iran on Sunday and is likely to reach Zahedan on Sept 9. According to senior officials, the transshipment of the goods (unloading of the Turkish train and loading / shifting the goods to Pakistani wagons) would be done at Iran’s Zahedan station, about 100kms away from Taftan — the country’s last station bordering Iran.

“According to my information, the train entered Iran’s territory on Sunday and now it is on way to Zahedan where it is likely to reach on Sept 9. Before it reaches Zahedan, we will dispatch our wagons for transshipment of the goods and bringing them first to Taftan and then Dalbandin station — around 300kms away from Taftan,” Nisar Akhan, PR’s Quetta Division’s chief (Divisional Superintendent), told Dawn on Sunday.

He said Pakistan’s broad gauge railway line exists till Zahedan (Iran) and after that the standard gauge rail begins that is commonly used for rail transportation in Iran, Turkey and parts of Europe. That is why the transshipment of the goods dispatched from Pakistan or Iran or Turkey is always at Zahedan.

He said since the transshipment process may take a couple of days, the Pakistani train carrying these goods after being unloaded from Turkish train would probably reach Taftan on Sept 12. He said the PR teams had already restored the rail traffic between Dalbandin and Taftan after repairing the track damaged by floods.

“Fortunately some of our goods trains and wagons are already available at Dalbandin. And we can use them for transshipment purposes,” he added.

He said from Dalbandin, these goods would be transported to the flood-affected areas by trucks as the rail track between Dalbandin and Quetta had been damaged by floods.

PR CEO Farrukh Taimur said the relief goods could not be transported through rail network as the track at various places had been washed away by floods. “I am currently on a tour to inspect the under-water railway tracks in Balochistan and Sindh. The relief goods from Dalbandin to Quetta cannot be transported by train.

Moreover, it also cannot be transported from Quetta to other parts of the country by train due to washing away of railway bridge No 221 near Hirok station on Quetta-Sibbi section of main line-3,” he explained. “Therefore, we will transport goods by road,” he added.

The PR has already informed the public that the resumption of the train operations may take a few days subject to receding of water on and along the rail tracks. At present, the Rohri-Tando Adam section, Paddidan-Bhiria, Daur-Bandhi and Bocheri-Nawabshah sections are inundated. The Nawabshah yard is also under water whereas the signalling system at railway yards is also dysfunctional due to inundation and power outages.

The PR on Aug 21 had suspended its train operations at various sections after the flash floods washed away the tracks.

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2022

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