Pakistan Railways launches multiple new initiatives
KARACHI - Federal Minister for Railways, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed here on Friday announced to get shifted the head office of Pakistan Railways's freight department to Karachi. Talking to media following the inauguration of a freight train, under a private-public partnership arrangement, he said railway service is crucial for economic development of any country. "It is also and important component of country's transport and communication systems hence ought to be efficient and affordable," said the minister. Announcing that 20 freight trains along with 20 passengers would be introduced during the current year, he said a mechanism has already been developed to turn them sustainable with nil compromise in terms of service quality. Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said efficient railway service can also help address the growing challenge of atmospheric pollution established to severely affect public health besides deteriorating the environment in general. With particular reference to freight trains, he said this would be to help Pakistan Railways gain financial stability that would ultimately strengthen passenger train service. "The federal government under the able leadership of Imran Khan is committed to facilitate masses and hence three different categories of passenger train service are being introduced," he said. Mentioning that 25% increased has been registered in railway passenger's occupancy rate during past four months, he said. It was mentioned that Rs.1350/- fare from Karachi and Peshawar has already been introduced during this period and this in itself is very low. "We are also fast on our way to introduce V.V.I.P non stop eight hours train service," said the federal minister for railways hinting that it may begin from March 23. He said all available assets of Pakistan Railways will also be reactivated with due attention towards railways lines as well carriage way, engine and locomotive factories that at one pint of time were major source of foreign exchange earnings for the country. In reply to a question, he said passenger and freight train services are being introduced in partnership with private sector and that absolute transparency is being adopted in approval of bids. About Karachi Circular Railways, Sheikh Rasheed said its feasibility done by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) was done in the years when he had the portfolio of railways. Opportunity, he regretted was missed but revived by present government under CPEC emphasizing that the scheme very much needed in Karachi would definitely materialized during the tenure of Prime Minister Imran Khan.