New Delhi, April 26: In a move that signals the rapid progress in normalising relations, India is considering a request from Pakistan to supply rail engines to help improve its rickety train service.
Pakistan is facing an acute shortage of locomotives that has forced its railways to suspend operations of as many as 128 passenger trains in recent months. According to an estimate, out of the 500 locomotives available with the Pakistan Railways, only 70 are in operation.
Officials here said the railway ministry is discussing a proposal from the Pakistan Railways Advisory and Consultancy Services Limited (PRACS) with the external affairs ministry.
“We have received their request…we are exploring it in consultation with the ministry of external affairs,” Railway Board chairman Vinay Mittal told IANS.
According to Mittal, the proposal is at a preliminary stage and that it has been discussed only over telephone. “There is nothing in writing so far,” he said.
But the proposal got a forward push Thursday as a PRACS team held discussions with the Railway Infrastructure, Technical and Economic Services (RITES), a public sector undertaking of India.
“These are initial discussions to assess their requirement,” said a RITES official.
He said PRACS wants to buy or take on lease around 50 locomotives from India to improve its passenger train services.
The visiting Pakistan railway officials are also expected to meet Indian private companies to explore options of buying components like compressors and braking systems.
India has price advantage in manufacturing railway engines as compared to other countries, railway sources said.