ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said he hopes that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects will benefit from the improvement in performance of Pakistan Railways.
Addressing the launching ceremony of the ‘Green Train’ service at the Margalla railway station here on Friday, the prime minister said there should be a train service between Karachi and Kashgar and in the near future a train service to Turkey.
He said Pakistan Railways was now back on track and had become a profit-making public sector organisation. Its income, he added, was expected to go up to Rs31 billion by the end of the current fiscal year from an estimated Rs28bn.
“The new train service is a sign that Pakistan Railways has turned into an income-generating organisation,” he said, adding that the revenue had increased to Rs23bn during the first year of the present government from Rs18bn in 2012-13.
Early this month, the government made the railways board functional by appointing 10 members and the board held its first meeting in Islamabad after a gap of 10 years.
A comprehensive restructuring plan has been prepared, which will soon focus on improving freight transportation. Railway revenue increased by 30 per cent in the first half of 2014-15 through rationalisation of tariff and expenditures and improved occupancy rates.
The prime minister said the ‘Green Line’ was an experimental service and more such projects needed to be taken up to make fast and affordable rail journey possible.
Mr Sharif inspected the compartments of the train and noted that its toilets were much better than those of PIA planes.
He said Railways’ over 3,000 acres of valuable land worth Rs10bn had been recovered from the land mafia. He praised the work done by Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and urged other ministers to follow the example set by him.
The prime minister expressed the hope that railway workers would work with honesty and dedication to turn the organisation into a real success story. He noted with satisfaction that passengers of the new service would be insured to the tune of Rs1 million and expressed the hope more facilities would be offered to passengers.
The train has comfortable sleepers and will provide meals, WiFi facility and newspapers to travellers. It will take 23 hours to cover the distance between Islamabad and Karachi.
Saad Rafique said that work on upgradation of 11 railway stations was in progress. A major improvement in the operation, he added, was the stock of fuel to meet the needs of last at least two to three weeks.
He said the punctuality of trains had improved by 10pc and the number of engines increased from 160 to 280.
About recovery of losses, Mr Rafique said that around Rs2bn had been recovered and efforts were being made to reduce losses by at least Rs1.5bn.
Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2015