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Pakistan's railways driven toward ruin

Arif Ali / AFP - Getty Images

Pakistan Railway workers repair an engine at a factory in Lahore on Dec. 3, 2011, in a picture made available on Dec. 21.

Farooq Naeem / AFP - Getty Images

Railway workers leave after washing train carriages in Rawalpindi on Dec. 3, 2011.

Corruption, mismanagement and neglect have driven Pakistan Railways to the brink of ruin, Agence France Presse reports, leaving millions of passengers stranded and consigning to the scrapheap a much-loved legacy of British rule. 

In the three years since the current government took power the railway has retired more than half of its trains, leaving just 100 to cover a country larger than Britain and Germany combined. The state-owned enterprise is expected to lose 35 billion rupees ($390 million) in the current fiscal year.

On a more positive note for intrepid travelers, The Associated Press reports that Afghanistan opened its first major rail service on Wednesday. A train successfully completed a trial run along a newly-built 47-mile track between Mazar-i-Sharif and the border with Uzbekistan, the first stage in an ambitious plan to open up new trade routes for the landlocked country.