ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Railways Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Aftab Akbar Monday informed the National Assembly Standing Committee on Railways that the trains across the country were facing delays due to the inadequate Computer-Based Interlocking System (CBIS).
The committee met under the chairmanship of Muhammad Mueen Wattoo and was attended by Muhammad Bashir Khan, Amjad Ali Khan, Sheikh Rashid Shafique, Tahir Iqbal, Aftab Jehangir, Nusrat Wahid, Hamid Hameed, Ramesh Lal, Sabir Hussain, Nauman Islam and other senior officials of the Ministry of Railways.
Aftab Akbar said that Computer-Based Interlocked System was introduced several years ago on Built-Operate-Transfer (BOT) but the department had been going through some “dispute” with the contractor.
The CEO said that the Pakistan Railways could not do away with the project because the governments had spent billions of rupees on it. However, the PR had asked the consortium to cooperate and complete the project as soon as possible.
He assured the committee that PR would address the issue of delays in train schedules, adding that the department was taking several measures to facilitate the passengers.
Aftab Akbar said that Pakistan Railways had increased its fare twice, first in December 2018 by 10 per cent and the second time in July this year by up to 8 per cent, due to increase in the petroleum price and dollar appreciation.
He categorically said that the PR had made no increase in trains fare for the passengers traveling up to 50 kilometers and the fare for the Economy Class had not been increased more than Rs100.
Regarding the policy and criteria for the launching of new trains, he said that the decision was taken on the railway minister’s directives keeping in view the demand and supply.
The expected volume of passengers is also considered to launch new trains, he added.
Aftab Akbar said the road and rail network connectivity on ignored sections and areas has been compared and analyzed.
New passenger trains have also been introduced on some sections to protect the Railway’s assets and facilitate the public at large by connecting various regions and provinces utilizing existing infrastructure, rolling stock, crew and employees, he added.
Aftab Akbar said that the earning of newly launched trains have been improved, adding that Mohenjo-Daro Express, Rohi Express and Shah Latif Express had been introduced to cater for the needs of poor people living in remote areas of interior Sindh.
He said that most of the newly launched trains covered the areas having no other communication network and mainly depends on rail traffic.
Aftab Akbar said the trains are running beyond their 100 percent capacity and presently steps were being taken to attach three additional coaches in each rake to minimize the losses of the trains and conducting raids on ticketless passengers.
He said that PR was also mulling to outsource some of the said trains to ensure their better commercial management and get more revenue.
Aftab Akbar said that Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid had already directed the department to close down the train facing losses except those where the train was the only transport, particularly in the remote areas.