Pakistan Railways’ membership of international rail body likely to be suspended due to non-payment of membership fee

The membership suspension would affect Pakistan Railways' international freight operations, such as Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad freight train.

Pakistan Railways.
Pakistan Railways.

Pakistan Railways’ membership of the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF) — under Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) — is likely to be suspended.

The reason for the suspension is the non-payment of the Pakistan Railways’ annual membership fee for the last two years.

OTIF – Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail.
OTIF – Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail.

It is pertinent to note that the membership of the international rail body is mandatory to launch a transcontinental rail train business under COTIF, a uniform railroad law to connect Europe, Asia, and the Maghreb.

OTIF countries.

Pakistan Railways (PR) has not paid the annual OTIF-COTIF membership fees for the last years (2020 and 2021).

The dues have not been cleared on the pretext of “financial crisis.”

Due to the non-payment of the dues, the resumption of the Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad freight train has been delayed as membership is necessary for launching global rail freight services.

According to a source cited by the DAWN newspaper, the PR is liable to pay a total of $180,000 (around ₨. 3.04 crore) to retain its membership.

This is not a massive amount for PR as it has nearly 80,000 employees and deals with billions of rupees every year, the source added.

Meanwhile, the source warned that if the PR’s membership is suspended due to the non-payment of dues, it would not be easy to restore it back quickly.

The Chairperson/Federal Secretary of PR, Dr. Habibur Rehman Gilani, has remarked that PR would soon clear its dues to keep its OTIF-COTIF membership intact as it is essential for the global rail freight business.

Gilani has also written a letter to the OTIF-COTIF to not suspend the PR’s membership or anything related to it as the payments would soon be cleared.

The reason cited by Gilani for the non-payment of the dues till now was the “financial crisis that emerged due to COVID-19.”

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