LAHORE - Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani inaugurated the country’s first private sector run train, ‘Pak Business Express’, which left Lahore Railways Station for Karachi at 03:30 pm on Friday. The first Pak Business Express was carrying around 250 passengers, though it had nine luxury wagons having capacity of 500 passengers.
Addressing the inaugural ceremony held at Lahore Railways Station, Gillani underscored, “It is the landmark example of public private partnership in the history of Pakistan Railways. This deluxe train service is equipped with the state of the art facilities, compatible with modern day’s demand of businessmen traveling between Lahore and Karachi. The train will set new standards for the public sector that will improve its level of performance on sustainable basis.”
He said that it was the first train, which was being run on public private partnership mode, which would give Pakistan Railways an insight about the functioning and potential of private sector. He said that the government was already well aware of the private sector’s potential and its capacity as an engine of economic growth. “Keeping this in mind, public sector monopoly is being increasingly outsourced to provide better services to the public, while protecting and enhancing revenues for the state at the same time,” he stressed. Prime minister said that he was confident that this partnership would infuse new spirit in providing efficient service to passengers and it would be instrumental in revival of Pakistan Railways. He said that he was delighted to witness that Pakistan Railways’ administration had fulfill the long awaited demand of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) for an express train connecting Lahore and Karachi. Gillani also appreciated the initiative of M/S Four Brothers, who had pledged to invest a minimum of Rs 225 million for the commercial management and passenger facilitation for the Business Express. He underlined that the initiative taken today would provide empathies to induct corporate culture not only in the Pakistan Railways, but also in other sectors of the economy. “We hope that we will have a beautiful interaction between the private sector and the government for future cooperation in other domains of railways activities, especially the freight sector, and perhaps also the manufacturing of railways machinery,” he maintained.
He indicated that Pakistan Railways was also on the verge of track access regime, which would provide a unique opportunity to private sector to avail untapped capacity on the railways network by importing locomotives, freight wagons and moving fleet across the country. It would relief pressure on main highways and also improve the efficient transportation of the goods in the country, he added.
Prime minister said, “Being an ex-minister for railways, Pakistan Railways is very close to my heart. During the recent past, I have been reviewing the progress of Railways with a view of putting it back on track. However, I can’t promise an overnight solution but the wheels are already in motion and we will succeed in providing a service of reasonable quality”.
He said that he was cognisant of all constraints. “Railways is facing acute shortage of locomotives, depleting rolling stock and slow pace of rehabilitation and upgradation of railways infrastructure. In the present scenario, revival of the railways depends in effectively utilising its available potential and resources”. It could best be done through greater collaboration between the public and private sectors, he stressed.
He appreciated the contribution of Pakistan Railways workers and all departments associated with this venture to make this enterprise a success. “I am sure that all employees of Pakistan railways will support the venture and prove that public private partnership is the key to economic growth for the future”, he said.
Prime minister said, “This also demonstrates that the democratic government is the key to have the participation of private business in sectors that had in the past remained strictly within the public domain. A strategy that marked the domination of the public sector organisation without participation of the private sector hampered the growth in the past. However, We are now in the process of removing all barriers in moving towards economic prosperity hand in hand with the private sector”.