— PR minister vows to increase the number of freight trains from 10 to 15 within 120 days
— ‘All reservation offices across the country will remain open till midnight’
LAHORE: Pakistan Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid has announced the commencement of three new trains from next month, saying that a new train would operate between Lahore and Faisalabad from October 1, while Mohnjodaro Express and Rohi Express trains would be operational from October 16.
Talking to media at the Pakistan Railways Headquarter in Lahore on Saturday, he laid emphasis on the need to improve the PR infrastructure, urging the private sector to come forward and take over Golra Railway Station and convert it into a food street or a picnic spot.
Giving details on the three new trains, he said, “A nonstop train to Faisalabad would depart from Lahore at 8am whereas the same would depart from Faisalabad at 2:30pm. The Mohenjo-Daro Express train would run through Larkana, Sehwan Sharif and Jamshoro to facilitate the underprivileged population of the area.”
Rashid said was Pakistan Railways was facing a shortage of 23,000 employees, however, 10,000 employees were needed urgently. “There is a dire need of 23,000 employees at PR but initially, upon the approval of the prime minister, 10,000 employees would be hired on pure merit. Starting from the recruitment of guards and drivers, the hiring process will begin soon while stringent check and balance of the employees will also be maintained through the introduction of biometric attendance system.”
In order to facilitate the passengers, the minister said, all reservation offices across the country would remain open till midnight.
“Provision of clean drinking water will be made available for passengers,” Rashid said, adding that tenders for water filtration plants as well as work on escalators at railway stations would be completed by next month.
He said the provision of wi-fi in railway stations will also be done through a public-private partnership, while tenders would be made on merit.
The minister on the occasion shared his views on Karachi-Lahore-Peshawar (ML-1) Railway Track and Kotri-Attock Railway Line (ML-2) Railway Track, saying that Mainline-I and Mainline-II were important for the country, as ML-I had been kept under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) while ML-II would be offered to the private investors for upgradation on build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis.
He said that the PR committee for investment opportunities would meet every Thursday and the railways would welcome all investors. He lamented that no improvement had been made in the freight sector and the number of freight trains was the same as it was 12 years ago. He vowed to increase the number of freight trains from 10 to 15 within 120 days.
The PR minister said that Karachi was being made fright headquarters for the railways as Karachi was a hub of the business.
To a question, he said that response on new trains was very good and around average 600 passengers were travelling by newly introduced trains.
To another question, Sheikh Rashid said that he wanted to sell two to three railway plots in Lahore and Karachi to overcome the deficit of the railways, adding that Rs 38 billion was the current deficit of the railways while it was under a debt of Rs 25 billion.
To another question on Nawaz Sharif, the minister said that Prime Minister Imran did not believe in any deal, however, the government respected the decisions of the courts.
He alleged that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government was the most “corrupt and dishonest government” in national history. He said that the number of pensioners had been reduced from 137,000 to 119,000.
PR CEO Aftab Akbar, PR Police IG Dr Mujeebur Rehman and other senior officers were also present on the occasion.