ISLAMABAD: Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad on Monday revealed that assistant train drivers were undertrained and to address the problem it was being considered to fill 30 per cent of vacancies by reappointing retired drivers.
Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Railways, he said: “Soon we will move a summary to Prime Minister Imran Khan seeking his approval for these appointments. The number of passengers has increased by six million as 30 new trains have been introduced.”
He said the prime minister will inaugurate Sir Syed Express on July 3.
“Passenger trains don’t make profit anywhere in the world but we have reduced the losses by Rs3 to 4 billion. Our target is to reduce the losses by Rs 8bn and the annual performance report would be made public on August 24,” he said.
The minister said that the fare was increased because of hike in fuel prices and claimed that Rs3.8bn was being spent on fuel.
“Moreover prices of spare parts have also increased because of jump in the dollar’s value. Fuel prices are increased but we have saved 1.7 million litres of oil. Railways has not got enough amount from the Public Sector Development Programme but its performance will not be affected,” he said.
Sheikh Rashid said Railways was purchasing distribution valves which were stolen during the previous government.
“We will become financially independent if we get a decision in the Golf City case in our favour. We have started working on an automatic command and control system. Moreover not a single rupee has been spent on Wi-Fi,” he said.
While briefing the committee on the Sukkur accident, an official of the Railways Ministry said that the coal train was going to Hyderabad and its speed at the station should have been 15km per hour but it was moving at 50km.
He said the signals were red but the driver ignored them.
The meeting was informed that the responsibility has been fixed in the accident of goods train.
“On April 11, Bahauddin Zakariya Express derailed due to a mistake of its driver. On May 17, a goods train derailed because two bolts of its fishplate were broken. On May 29, Jaffar Express derailed because its left buffer had fallen. On June 1, Shah Hussain Express derailed because of rolling stock. On June 10, Mianwali Express derailed because the rail track was loose. On June 6, Karakoram Express derailed because the track gauge got spread,” the official said.
Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2019