Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique has offered the private sector to run freight trains.He has asked the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) to assume the lead role in this and instructed LCCI to coordinate with Sialkot, Faisalabad and Multan chambers to formulate a plan for freight trains.
PR is one of the most important sources of passenger and industrial goods movement across the country.
Rafique emphasised that public-private partnership is crucial in reviving the state-run railways. Speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Monday, he encouraged the private-sector investors to come forward and do business with the railways. He revealed that a number of trains were being outsourced.
He added that under the public-private partnership model, the highest bid of Rs1.80 billion had been given for running the Shalimar Express whereas Pakistan Railways (PR) would get Rs1.14 billion more compared to the previous agreement for the same train service.
Rafique further added that the PR is free from corruption and nepotism and the best leadership is playing a key role in improving the national asset.PR revenues are on the rise, earning Rs36.58 b in FY2015-16 against the target of Rs32 billion, he added.
He further revealed that a plan had been formulated for the manufacturing of electric-diesel locomotives at Pakistan Locomotives Factory of PR. Special attention is also being paid to land management and land record is being computerised.
LCCI President Abdul Basit pointed out that PR had been successful in emerging out of a crisis and it has now become operationally viable. However, a lot of effort still needs to be put in. Basit suggested that there is a need to revamp railway tracks and the Central Traffic Control System needs to be upgraded.
He was of the view to retain operational engines and power vans in good working condition as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is anticipated to increase PR’s workload. He emphasised that service charges should be uniform at all dry ports in an attempt to boost PR revenues.
Basit in line with Rafique favoured public-private partnership for better functioning of the PR and suggesting outsourcing maximum operations to the private sector.
He further stressed on making security arrangements in warehouses foolproof.