–Minister for railways thanks opposition parties, premier for support
–Saad satisfied with increase in railway’s revenue, freight trains, punctuality
LAHORE: The outgoing Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique on Friday claimed that the sinking Pakistan Railways (PR) had now stood up on its feet and will achieve many milestones if same policy is continued.
He was addressing to the last press conference of his tenure at Pakistan Railways Headquarters Office here in Lahore. Saad focused his talk entirely on the issues related to the railways and avoided replying questions related to politics.
“I am leaving behind a leadership in the railways which will never let its progress down. This leadership includes the railways secretary, managing director and chief executive officer who worked day and night to bring improvement in the institution,” he said and added that this was not an easy task to execute. This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the workers and their association, Kh Saad admitted.
He said, “Political parties also extended their support, especially members of the standing committee who were comprised of Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf parliamentarians.” Saad thanked all political parties for their support while adding that the railways remained lucky as it received all the due funds on time that helped a lot to keep the department on track.
“I am especially thankful to the prime minister house for exclusive support in this regard,” Saad maintained.
Giving details of the progress, Saad stated that after taking charge of the PR, he focused on to reduce the expenditures and improve earning. “Under this policy, Pakistan Railways earned Rs40.01 billion against the set targets of Rs36 billion during fiscal 2016-2017.”
Saad said that the railway’s tracks were in poor condition, however, he said that 730-kilometer-long tracks were rehabilitated while railways drew a 138-km-long new track in Balochistan.
“In 2013, revenue from passenger sector was almost 78 percent while freight was hardly contributing 13 percent,” he said and added that by the end of June 2017 the earning from passenger sector was 55 percent while the freight was contributing 31 percent to the total revenue.
He continued that in June 2013, only one freight train used to move per day on an average from Karachi port which now has been increased to 12 trains per day on an average while the PR is also supplying coal to Sahiwal coal power plant. “To generate the revenue, PR signed long-term agreements with Maple Leafe Cement, Bestway Cement, Gharibwal Cement and other trading companies by adopting the best marketing practices. Following this practice, a contract will be signed with Nishat Group for transporting 30,000 tons of coal per month from Karachi,” he added.
He said that the total freight trains run by Pakistan Railways have been increased to 6,940 in 2016-17 as compared to 2,172 in 2013-14. He hoped that this would be further increased to 7,858 by the end of June 2018.
To bring progress in facilitating the passengers, Saad stressed that the punctuality of trains had been increased to 77 percent during 2017-18 as compared to 42 percent in 2013-14 which helped in boosting passengers confidence on the rail service.
“It was a dream to establish E-ticketing system which has now been fulfilled. Passengers can now book their tickets using credit cards or Jazz Cash payment options,” he added.
“This is the credit of current administration that it is the first time in the history of the Pakistan Railways that fares have reduced on different occasions,” Saad said and added that this step also helped in the increased number of passengers from 12.5 million to 54.5 million per year.
He further informed that the railways had procured 55 locomotives from General Electric Company from 4000 to 4500 horsepower, which are freight specific. “These locomotives have the ability to pull 2400 tones trailing load instead of 1200 tones,” he informed.