Dreams of a bullet train


Might not be as fruitful as they appear to be

Railway is perhaps the most cost effective method of transportation for passengers and goods. That’s why most of the countries focus on improving its infrastructure along with upgrading technology at a regular interval, like China and Japan have been doing with their railway systems in the past few decades. Pakistan’s comparison with any of these countries would be wrong on so many levels. While we are stuck with a system that was passed on to us by the British in the pre-independence era, with tracks literally at least a century old at places, promises of a bullet train strains on credulity.

As it happens, that’s not the only problem we have; lack of secure crossings, infrastructure in shambles, lack of fuel, both petroleum based and electric, political and bureaucratic interventions, corruption, low revenue generation through the sales of tickets are some of the other problems that have marred the performance of the once vibrant Pakistan Railways. Only the other day, as many as 16 people, all of the same family, were killed when a train collided with a rickshaw at an unsecured crossing. The tragedy speaks for itself: innocent lives lost because of human error. Incidents like this happen at an uncomfortable rate rendering the whole exercise of putting up crossings, sanctioned and unsanctioned ones, death traps. Pakistan Railways, as an organsitaion, is bleeding money faster than, for lack of a better word, a bullet train. Trains are delayed for hours on end, engines break down right in the middle of nowhere and the goods it is carrying are stolen, dual carriage lines haven’t been installed even after 10 years since the project was launched between some of the most important stations, railway stations present a deserted look with no security and almost non-existent facilities. That is what our railway system has come to. With all this, the talk of launching a bullet train seems borderline ridiculous, but with the party that went ahead with a project that benefited only a six percent of the population in a city of almost eight million people, at the cost of any development project in the rest of the province, might now take another swing at the mandate it has been given and go ahead with the project that is estimated to cost us $20 million per one kilometre.

China is the world’s second largest economy, and we are at a lowly 27th. Our economy doesn’t allow us to squander valuable funds on such projects. Wouldn’t it be better to use only a fraction of that amount to improve the existing system – security, infrastructure and technology – and then gradually bring it at par with the systems in China or Japan? Wouldn’t it be better to use some of that amount for education, technical training and imparting skills to people? We need to sort out our priorities now.


  1. Someone with improper and non-technical knowledge and full of fearful theories like"sky is falling" seems to be the writer of this article.
    The writer should be given the information that Pakistan ain't investing on this project, the whole investment is coming from the Government of China. Moreover the writer should be conveyed the vision and benefits of this project that in this current economical situation of our country, projects like these are the only source to boost up our economy.
    Pakistan can earn a lot of revenue from this project, our friendship with China will get more stronger, deeper and cooperative. Investment from all over the world will turn its way towards Pakistan. As soon as our Gawadar Port Project gets completed, Pakistan will be on it's way to become the fastest growing economy around the globe and so on.
    My message to the writer is that he should first see all the pros and cons of anything without writing about it because mango peoples believe what they see, hear or read without even thinking that why is he saying that, why it is like that, does it suppose to be like that…etc. So this way you are misguiding the peoples, stop doing it!
    From, a 19 years old guy who's just a student yet.

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