LAHORE - Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Saturday said that Prime Minister Imran Khan would soon inaugurate two new trains from Karachi to Dhabeji and Karachi to Hyderabad.
Addressing a press conference here at the PR Headquarters, he said that both trains would facilitate passengers, especially labourers. The minister said that the PR was focusing on enhancing capacity of trains and in this regard fares of such trains had been revised downwards, which had low occupancy rate, in order to earn more revenue.
Sheikh Rashid said that timings of trains had also been revised for the convenience of people and the Rail-Car from Lahore to Islamabad would now run at 10am instead of 8am, he added. The route of Sukkur Express was also being extended to Jacobabad and Shikarpur, he said.
He said that the department would ensure free WiFi facility at three trains including Green Line, Karachi Express and Tez Gam from the next week, adding that the catering service would also be restored in these trains. The WiFi service would also be operationized at nine divisional headquarters, he maintained.
The minister said that a task force had been set up consisting of nine PR officers to further improve freight trains network, adding that he would increase the number of freight trains from eight to 15, whereas efforts were being made to repair 100 coaches during every month as 672 coaches had become non-functional. It was one of the major causes of loss to the PR, he added. “We want to establish the latest command and control center at PR Headquarters to replace traditional manual system,” he said.
The minister said that a summary regarding regularization of 8,000 PR contractual employees had been sent to the prime minister for approval, whereas another summary for one grade promotion of the PR employees had also been forwarded, he added.
He said that important decisions were taken during a session today, adding that the PR had managed to increase its revenue by one billion rupees within the first 50 days of the PTI government. Sheikh Rashid said that tracking devices would be installed at all locomotives to estimate the fuel consumption.
To a question, he said that directions had been issued to officials concerned to eliminate schools and other small business units established near railway track till October 30, adding that parents should restrain their children from playing at railway track; otherwise, action would be taken against negligent parents. To another query, the minister said that during the tenure of the previous government, jobs were given on political basis which caused financial damage to the PR, adding that he would ensure merit and transparency at any cost.
He said that the previous government purchased a locomotive for Rs 420 million, which was available for Rs 220 million, adding that not a single rupee was spent on improving tracks and signaling system.
Similarly, former P&D minister Ahsan Iqbal wasted millions of rupees of the public money on Narowal Railway Station, which was contributing less than Rs 0.6 million to the PR revenue, he said.
Sheikh Rashid said that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government was facing huge challenges inherited from its predecessors, especially on economic front, however the government would put the country on the road to progress and prosperity.
To another query, he said that former chief minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif was more corrupt than his elder brother Nawaz Sharif, adding that Shehbaz Sharif had plundered the provincial exchequer in the name of so-called mega public welfare projects.