Feature: Advanced, high-tech Chinese coaches to enhance Pakistan Railways' operation
LAHORE, Pakistan, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Muhammad Naeem was busy checking brand new train coaches with Chinese engineer Lei Song in Pakistan's east Lahore province on a chilly winter evening, ahead of their formal induction in Pakistan Railways for commercial use.
The coaches imported from China were recently parked at Lahore after completing their trial run during which they not only impressed the officials who saw them for the first time, but also Naeem and his colleagues who visited China in September last year to receive training about the coaches' maintenance.
"The coaches can run at the speed limit of 160 km per hour, and are specially designed to provide very comfortable travel to passengers," the 55-year-old Head Train Examiner of Washing Line in Pakistan Railways told Xinhua, adding that he will do his best to ensure safety and maintain the standard of the coaches, together with Chinese engineers who came to Lahore to work with them.
Many functions of the coaches are new to Pakistani engineers and technicians, so they were trained to learn more about them in China and will be further trained while working together with their Chinese peers in Pakistan.
"The coaches have a lot of advanced functions, including the passenger information system, air cushion shock absorber, Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and an energy-saving light system that my Pakistani counterparts think is very advanced and have never used before, so our job is to provide training services regarding repairs and maintenance work," Lei told Xinhua.
Pakistan acquired the coaches from China through a transparent bidding process in which the Chinese company was the preferred pick among all others from different countries. From the contract to acquire 230 coaches, 46 arrived in Pakistan at the end of last November, while the remaining will be manufactured in Pakistan with China's support.
Talking to Xinhua about the specifications of the coaches, Muhammad Imran, divisional mechanical engineer of the Lahore division of Pakistan Railways, said that they are extremely robust, and have cozy interiors and modern technologies to provide comfortable and fast travel to passengers.
Imran visited China after the contract was won to discuss with Chinese engineers about the structure of the coaches, and their specific design to make them compatible with the local tracks and environment.
Talking about the specific design of the coaches for the local tracks, Su Weiyue, senior engineer and the project manager of the overseas project department of China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) Tangshan company, told Xinhua that the gauge of railway tracks is 1,435 mm in China whereas it is 1,676 mm in Pakistan, so the operating state of the Pakistani line and the requirements of the track were fully taken into account.
By the middle of 2023, raw materials for the remaining 184 coaches will be imported and Chinese technicians will help Pakistan produce and assemble the coaches in about two and a half years, Su said.
"We hope that the train exported to Pakistan will become a standardized product for train production in Pakistan in the future. We hope to have friendly cooperation with Pakistan to achieve the goal of joint development and benefit-sharing," she added.
Talking about the technology transfer program, Imran said that Pakistan does not have much experience with manufacturing coaches in recent history, and it is a very good project for Pakistan to provide new skills for its people and modernize its factories.
Calling the train and the technology transfer agreement a gift for the people of Pakistan, Imran said that "machinery, plant, and equipment will be installed in Pakistan during the transfer of technology ... and in the future, Pakistan Railways will be able to manufacture these advanced technological high-speed coaches independently."
The newly received coaches will be used as premier trains with special staff and maintenance facilities, Muhammad Hanif Gul, divisional superintendent of the Lahore division at Pakistan Railways under the Ministry of Railways, told Xinhua.
"It will substantially enhance the image of Pakistan Railways and it will provide comfort to passengers and will be another feather in the cap of Pakistan-China collaboration," he added.