Railways revenue drops by Rs1.2bn

Published April 10, 2004

ISLAMABAD, April 9: Pakistan Railways' freight revenue dropped by about Rs1.2 billion during first nine months of the current fiscal year against the same period of the last year.

Informed sources told Dawn that this drop in the revenue was mainly because of the conversion of cement plants from fuel oil to coal, reduction in furnace oil consumption in power sector and transportation of furnace oil through newly-developed pipelines instead of the train.

A high-level meeting, presided over by Federal Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz, held on Friday was informed that public sector allocation ratio for road and railways, which was 28:72 per cent in the early 1950s, had changed into 80:20 per cent in 2003.

It was mainly because of this shift in investment programme that trains were running on the tracks laid down in 1910. The tracks were not capable of meeting requirements of the upcoming Gwadar Port or even existing needs for goods handling.

The sources said the meeting was also informed that Pakistan would not be able to meet transportation requirements of regional trade over the next few years. If sufficient resources were made available, the Pakistan Railways had the potential to serve as a future link for trade between Central Asia, West Asia and the Gulf, the sources said.

The meeting also considered the corporatisation of the Pakistan Railways. It noted that the Railways had improved its performance over the last five years, an official statement said.

It carried 72 million passengers in 2002-03, as compared to 65 million in 1998-99. It also cut loss and improved its share in passenger and freight traffic through better administrative and financial management. It introduced four passenger trains in 2003, computerised reservations at three stations and introduced other customer-friendly services to attract more business.

A detailed briefing was given at the meeting on a plan to connect Gwadar with Spinboldek and upgradation of its present track and rolling stock to create better infrastructure for accommodating traffic in future.

The statement said the finance minister noted that the government attached priority to the development of railway operation in the country. Since it had to play a vital role in making Pakistan a hub of industrial activity in the regime, the government had during the current financial year increased its allocation to Rs8.9 billion or 7.9 per cent of the PSDP allocation, he added.

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