Pakistan Railways under Rs 37 billion annual deficit, Sheikh Rasheed announces drastic measures

Pakistan Railways under Rs 37 billion annual deficit, Sheikh Rasheed announces drastic measures

ISLAMABAD – Minister for Railway Sheikh Rashid Ahmed Monday expressed his firm resolve to make Pakistan Railways self sufficient by December 30, this year by overcoming its whooping Rs 37 billion annual deficit.

Talking to media, he said work had already been started to minimize the railways deficit. A meeting of railway high officials has been summoned in Lahore on coming Saturday to prepare a comprehensive roadmap for rehabilitation of Pakistan Railways.

Talking about railway’s modernisation he said, the passengers of second and third class carriages would be provided air conditioning facility, while modern escalators would be installed at the stations to facilitate elder passengers and special persons.

Lahore-Rawalpindi railway track would be dualised under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the travelling time between Lahore and Rawalpindi would be reduced to two and a half hours.

The length of Kalowal to Jhelum railway track would be reduced from existing 65 km to only 15 km by eliminating unnecessary curves. National Logistic Cell and (NLC) and Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) would be asked to construct Gujar Khan to Jhelum railway track, he added.

He said, as many as 32 railway stations would be upgraded including Chaklala and Margalla railway stations in Rawalpindi and Islamabad respectively.

Efforts would be made to double the freight traffic, he said and added, rail plazas and food streets would be constructed near the stations in collaboration with private sector.

E ticketing system would be improved further and travel agents would be authorized to issue railway tickets.

He also asked people to send practical suggestions through social media for improving Pakistan Railways and also pinpoint anomalies, or anything objectionable in trains, or at the railway stations.

The railway carriages would be named after the sponsoring companies.

A massive tree plantation would be started along the railway track right from Kemari to Peshawar, he said and urged land grabbers to voluntarily vacate their illegal possession of railway lands. He said that 5,000 studio apartments would be constructed for railway employees.

Pakistan Railways, he said, would not get subsidy from the government, if Rs 30 billion per annum pension of its retired railway employees was paid directly to pensioners by the government.

Responding to a question, he said Leh Expressway would be constructed under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. Train service would also be started on Leh Expressway from Rawat to Islamabad. He thanked media for supporting him while he was in opposition. - APP