ISLAMABAD: Railways Minister Azam Khan Swati has said that operating passenger and freight trains is not the function of the Pakistan Railways since it has no capacity to provide better services, adding that it is actually the function of the private sector.

Speaking at the Rawalpindi Railway Station during the inauguration of Sir Syed Express train, Mr Swati invited the private sector to make investment in the organisation.

The government would improve the track through the ML-1 project, he said.

The minister said that Sir Syed Express was being “outsourced” as a “better rate” had been achieved through tendering.

After outsourcing Sir Syed Express, more passenger trains as well as freight trains would be outsourced, he added.

Mr Swati said that with the outsourcing of the train, one chapter of the mission he had undertaken on the instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan would be completed.

He deplored that railways in Pakistan had not yet entered the twenty-first century.

He said some vested interest had taken the railways into their grip but through the application of technology, the government would defeat corruption in railways. “Scrap, tickets and water are stolen from railway stations,” he said, adding all warehouses of the Pakistan Railways would be sold by July 31.

Mr Swati said that the employees of the Pakistan Railways had occupied 20 per cent of railways land. He also accused railway employees of being involved in “extortion”.

Pakistan would build railways for Uzbekistan, he said, adding that Prime Minister Khan would visit the Central Asian country soon.

The minister expressed his regret at two train accidents that had occurred during his tenure and pledged that the officials responsible for these accidents would be awarded exemplary punishment.

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2021

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