RAWALPINDI: Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed on Thursday vowed to improve the train services in the country and challenged himself to finish off the burdening debt faced by the department.
The Awami Muslim League (AML) chief, who is now a part of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet said that the department has inherited a debt-ridden organisation by the previous ‘dishonest and corrupt’ leaders, and now it is his responsibility to improve them.
“I have inherited debts of Rs35-40 billion and I have been informed that everything is fine, but that reality is a lot different,” he said. “I accept this challenge to waive the debts and losses.”
Furthermore, Rasheed said that people want a comfortable train travel, and he would not rest but instead work tirelessly to improve the affairs of the railways.
“I promise that railways will be improved. It is my responsibility,” he said, adding that the gravity of the situation needs to be highlighted as the annual expenditure was around Rs 9 billion and he has instructed to the Divisional Superintendent Rawalpindi to reduce expenditures.
He also said that they would utilise the abundant land resources of the railways as they do not have financial means, and are even willing to rent out railway platforms for commercial activities.
Rasheed continued to stated that “31 railways stations are being upgraded and apartments will be constructed for lower-grade employees.”
“Locomotives belong to freight trains and not passenger trains, and that freight charges at Karachi will be raised,” he said, adding that the only profitable trains will be reinstated, and he would run new train services from Karachi to Sukkur, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Mianwali.
Moreover, the matter of encroachment of railways properties will be taken in the meeting of the federal cabinet and that the encroachers should pay the price to the authorities.
“There will be no political victimisation and no one will be removed from their position, but there will not be 10,000 people in the railway police,” adding that “the stations, plazas, and food streets will be set up through private partnership allowing them to invest for over 20 years, but the ownership will remain with the railways”.
Sheikh Rasheed also said that “any overseas Pakistanis are interested in investing and have even offered to bring bullet trains,” but he told them that it was a very expensive project and they should fix their own trains first.