Mirpurkhas, Sind: For more than 3million people of Thar, the Pakistan Railways is plying just one passenger train, while in the year 2008 when the previous government had taken charge 12 passenger trains used to ply on Mirpurkhas-Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas-Karachi section.
Three million people of the three districts of Thar – Mirpurkhas, Tharparkar and Umerkot, are facing great problems due to closure of 11 trains in last five years, while the private transporters have been enjoying windfall at the cost of passengers, as after closure of 11 passenger trains the people of this backward area have no option but to use costly road-based private transport.
The history of rail travel on Karachi-Mirpurkhas section dates back pre-independence era. In fact the very first section of railway in Pakistan was started with Karachi-Kotri service in the year 1861. Even after the creation of Pakistan, railway was considered the most popular mode of transportation in this region. Though, this section was neglected in the later years but even in the year 2008 one dozen passenger trains used by ply on Mirpurkhas-Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas-Karachi section.
After the general elections of 2008 the people of this area had high hopes that the elected government would improve rail transport facilities for the Desert people, but instead of introducing any new train service, as many as 11 existing trains were closed down on the plea of shortage of engines and diesel. Locales and traders blame that the train-based transport sector of this area was systemically ruined by railway ministry to benefit the powerful transporters lobby.
This backward area has a great potential for passenger trains, as the poor and low income people find it cost effective to travel in trains than in costlier buses and coaches. The people hoped that the coming government would not only revive 11 closed trains but also introduce new ones to facilitate people.