‘Railways earned record Rs453m in first week of Dec’

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  • Sh Rasheed says the department saved 650,000-litre fuel despite starting 20 new trains in three months

LAHORE: Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad said on Saturday that his department has earned a record income of Rs453.40 million during the first week of December.

Addressing a press conference, he said that the railways had earned Rs261.20 million in the first week of December 2017.

“The department had saved 650,000-litre fuel despite starting 20 new trains during the last three months,” he claimed.

The minister thanked the people for expressing their trust in his department and said that all tickets till Dec 21 from Lahore to Karachi had been sold out.

The minister said Rehman Baba Express train between Peshawar and Karachi, via Rawalpindi, Wazirabad and Faisalabad, would be launched on December 23, adding that the train would complete its run in 26 hours.

He said two container trains would soon be introduced and preparations in this regard were underway. The minister said it had been decided to open pharmacies and small tuck shops at prominent railway stations across the country.

He said the railways wanted to lease 1,000 sites for establishment of petrol pumps and it was awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court, which was expected on Dec 24. “All seven locomotive sheds are being computerised in order to improve the performance of the locomotive sheds,” he added.

The minister further said that an information technology (IT) group is being established at the railway division level on the direction of the prime minister.

“A rescue railcar between Lahore and Rawalpindi could conditionally be operated in case of expected motorway blockage due to fog during the winter season,” he said.

To a question about an increase in the fare, he said that the department was charging Rs1,350 from Peshawar to Karachi which was equal to the road fare between Lahore and Rawalpindi.

He said after successfully introducing 10 new trains, rakes of all trains would be improved, adding that decision on the MainLine-1 (ML-1) would be finalised before Dec 31 and that the ministry had planned to upgrade ML-II and ML-III within few years.

He said that tenders were being published regarding the reduction of a curve between Gojar Khan and Jhelum on Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) basis. “The distance between Lahore and Rawalpindi would reduce from 59 kilometres to 19 kilometres (one hour),” he added.

He said that private parties were interested in freight trains and an approval had been granted in this regard. To a question, he said the current regime was focusing on planning while in the past, the focus remained on purchasing.

He urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to upgrade the scale of labours in the railways. To another question about the locomotives purchased during the previous government, he said that condition of those locomotives was not good even though the same had been purchased on higher prices.

“We would not purchase any locomotive and operate the railways by repairing the old engines,” he clarified.

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