LAHORE: The Pakistan Railways (PR) has decided to increase fares of all passenger trains by seven per cent, citing hike in oil prices.
“The increasing oil prices have left us with no option but to increase the fares of all of our passenger trains. We have tried hard to not to overburden the people, as the increase is just 6 to 7 per cent that will cost Rs100 or so more than the present fares,” Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid told Journalists at a press conference here at the PR’s headquarters on Saturday.
The minister said there would be no increase in the fares for the destinations up to 50 kilometer and for those who had already got their seats reserved for various destinations.
Since the PR had already increased the fares of all freight trains some days ago from 5 to 10pc because of increase in the oil prices, the decision was being expected with regard to passenger trains as well.
“We know that the people are already facing price hike. But what to do when the PR is facing a Rs3 billion financial burden due to increase in the oil prices. So this is an unavoidable situation that forced us to do so,” the minister said in a bid to justify the decision.
Talking about the recent train accident near Hyderabad, he said in a bid to avert such incidents, the PR had decided to get medical fitness test of all of its drivers conducted.
The decision was taken in a high-level meeting in the light of an inquiry report that declared over-speeding, human error and some operational issues as the main causes behind the accident near Hyderabad that left a driver and an assistant driver of the Jinnah Express and a guard of the goods train dead on the spot.
“It was nothing, but a human error that caused this accident near Hyderabad a couple of days before. The preliminary inquiry has found over-speeding by the Jinnah Express’ driver. Similarly, the gap of just half an hour between the departure of the goods train and that of Jinnah Express was too short,” Mr Rashid explained while sharing finding of the inquiry report.
“So we have decided to send all drivers to PR’s Walton training academy to check their medical fitness,” he added.
He claimed to have reduced the financial deficit the PR had been facing since long. The PR admin has asked its financial advisor (member finance) to issue his report in this regard soon.
To a question, the minister said he had launched new trains despite disagreement by all the officer. “All of our officers were against this move. But I fulfilled the promise I had made with the nation to run 40 new trains, including the goods trains. So the result is that we have earned revenue mainly from the passenger trains,” he maintained.
To another question, he said Misaq-e-Maeeshat (charter of economy) has been done between the government and opposition parties.
Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2019