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LAHORE, July 27: Except for Karakorum Express, commuters opting to travel in AC Sleeper and business classes of all trains will pay 17 per cent to 57 per cent less than the present fares initially for three months.

Minimum fare of the branch line trains was also decreased to Rs20 from the present Rs35 per passenger per journey, said Minister for Railways Khwaja Saad Rafiq at a news conference at the PR headquarters in Lahore on Saturday.

A decision to extend concession to other trains was taken after the 'fare rationalisation’ of rail cars and Jaffar Express tickets attracted more passengers and increased revenue, said the minister who claimed that the daily deficit of the Railways had come down to around Rs90 million from the Rs100 million some five weeks ago.

The minister said in the wake of increase in POL products’ prices and electricity tariff efforts would be made not to pass on the burden to the commuters.

A number of special trains would be operated to facilitate people on the occasion of Eidul Fitr, said Mr Rafiq and added that punctuality -- departure and arrival time – of trains would be improved up to 85 per cent by the end of the current year. “Railways has yet to overcome shortage of locomotives and other rolling stock -- coaches and wagons. We spend $50 for the daily repair and maintenance of a locomotive while $500 is utilised for the purpose the world over,” said the minister.

He said railways had got Rs1.57 billion back from the Chinese firm that was to be used for the procurement of 75 locomotives, while the Punjab government has also paid Rs30 million out of PR claims of Rs3 billion. Railways would get most of the remaining amount after settlement with the provincial government.

Regarding the Gujranwala accident, the minister said according to report of a detailed inquiry, the driver and his assistant were found responsible for the incident. The driver has been arrested from Rawalpindi while raids were being conducted by railway police to nab the assistant driver. Departmental action would be taken against the accused.

There was no fault in the locomotive or the rolling stock and the negligence of the driver and his assistant resulted in the accident. However, the rail system on the section was also being examined thoroughly to determine whether or not there was any fault in it.