KARACHI - Train operations in Karachi Division were severely affected as nearly Rs2 billion allocation for the rehabilitation of 36 ageing locomotives was allegedly misused. A source, privy to the situation, on condition of anonymity told TheNation here on Thursday that half of the allocation for the 'Rehabilitation Project was allegedly misused by Pakistan Railways as only 50 per cent of the essential accessories, required to make the locomotives functional, were installed. The project was launched in 2008 to repair 36 out-of-order locomotives, meant for passengers and freight trains. The repair of the last of the 36 locomotives was completed on June 30, 2010 in Karachi. The source disclosed that 36 US-made locomotives were selected for the rehabilitation and repair. These locomotives of model No GMU-30 were purchased in 1975. The source said that initially a total sum of Rs1.62 billion was allocated for the project but later the amount was increased to Rs1.92 billion. The railways source stated that all the six railway divisions, except Karachi, had refused to take the project due to shortage of modern required accessories and experts who could carry out the job. However, Karachi Division took up the challenge. According to an expert in the PR, around 16 accessories were to be installed in each locomotive. These accessories including armatures, bearings, traction motors and other expensive items, required to make the locomotives functional, have been misappropriated, he deplored the fact. A traction motor costs Rs2.3 million, an armature Rs1.5 million while a bearing costs Rs55,000. The expert maintained that six traction motors, one armature and two bearings were to be installed in each locomotive, but strangely enough only three traction motors were installed in each locomotive. Besides this more expensive and necessary parts were not installed in the locomotives, resultantly the locomotives could not perform properly and could not take up the load in pulling the trains smoothly, he added. The first locomotive was repaired on February 8, 2008 and the last one on June 30, 2010. The experts said that the locomotives did not have enough power to pull the trains and accelerate its speed, which would ultimately affect the train operation. The source added that the armatures purchased in 2003 were rejected because their warrantees had expired and also that those had become weak due to the passage of time. There are 146 locomotives in Karachi division out of which 50 were brought from China during the former President Pervez Musharraf regime. About 12 out of 50 locomotives were held up for want of required material from China, three were set on fire during the riot on December 27, 2007, while three were damaged in separate accidents which were yet to be repaired. Sixty low-capacity locomotives were assigned for shunting and local purpose. Around 54 locomotives were not able to operate, causing delay to the trains schedule and affecting the Pakistan Railways performance. When contacted, PR Karachi Division Superintendent Aftab Memon refused to comment on the situation and said that as it was a project of the Mughalpura workshop so he had no knowledge about that. Meanwhile Works Manager (Diesels) Kashif Farooq also refused to say anything on the plea that only higher authorities could speak about the matter. When contacted, Railways Workers Union (Open Lines) President Manzoor Razi and General Secretary Rao Naseem told TheNation that if such huge irregularities had been committed in the department they must be investigated and those responsible for the misconduct should be brought to justice. They said that one had to look at the past history - the railways authorities never bothered to probe misappropriation and financial irregularities in the Pakistan Railways. Look we have to accept that currently the department suffers severe financial crises because of such attitude and indifference on part of the authorities, they argued. They stated that an impression had been created that the railways was causing huge loses and that it had become a burden on the national exchequer, adding that the reality however was somewhat different. The railways can again stand on its feet and earn a lot but the authorities vested interests are making it difficult, the union leaders maintained. Manzoor Razi and Rao Naseem feared that if appropriate measures were not taken the railways would have to suffer from crisis after crises.