ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s newly inducted Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmad vowed to work hard for the uplift of Pakistan Railways utilizing his best abilities. During his visit to the ministry in Islamabad on Monday, he said corruption will be eliminated in the ministry at all levels. The Minister said Pakistan Railways is facing deficit of millions rupees and he will work to decline this deficit.
Talking to media, he said work had already been started to minimize the railways deficit. A meeting of railway high officials has been summoned in Lahore on coming Saturday to prepare a comprehensive roadmap for rehabilitation of Pakistan Railways.
Talking about railway’s modernisation he said, the passengers of second and third class carriages would be provided air conditioning facility, while modern escalators would be installed at the stations to facilitate elder passengers and special persons.
Lahore-Rawalpindi railway track would be dualised under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the travelling time between Lahore and Rawalpindi would be reduced to two and a half hours.
The length of Kalowal to Jhelum railway track would be reduced from existing 65 km to only 15 km by eliminating unnecessary curves. National Logistic Cell and (NLC) and Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) would be asked to construct Gujar Khan to Jhelum railway track, he added.
He said, as many as 32 railway stations would be upgraded including Chaklala and Margalla railway stations in Rawalpindi and Islamabad respectively.
Efforts would be made to double the freight traffic, he said and added, rail plazas and food streets would be constructed near the stations in collaboration with private sector.
E ticketing system would be improved further and travel agents would be authorized to issue railway tickets.
He also asked people to send practical suggestions through social media for improving Pakistan Railways and also pinpoint anomalies, or anything objectionable in trains, or at the railway stations.
The railway carriages would be named after the sponsoring companies.
A massive tree plantation would be started along the railway track right from Kemari to Peshawar, he said and urged land grabbers to voluntarily vacate their illegal possession of railway lands. He said that 5,000 studio apartments would be constructed for railway employees.
Pakistan Railways, he said, would not get subsidy from the government, if Rs 30 billion per annum pension of its retired railway employees was paid directly to pensioners by the government.
Responding to a question, he said Leh Expressway would be constructed under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. Train service would also be started on Leh Expressway from Rawat to Islamabad. He thanked media for supporting him while he was in opposition.
During his visit, he took note of the Supreme Court’s observation and laterally seeking a reply from the Pakistan’s Railway Ministry after it was informed by an auditor that Pakistan Railways had suffered losses of Rs.40 billion.
Resuming the hearing of a case pertaining to monetary losses suffered by the vital service, the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar remarked that it is inconceivable how the country is being run with malfunctioning state institutions.
Issuing a notice to the Ministry of Railways over the audit report, the CJP sought a reply from relevant authorities. “The report was to be presented without any pressure,” the CJP remarked and then asked whether the ministry had performed in a satisfactory manner during the last five years. “The report is not good,” the auditor replied.
When asked whether the past five years were the most damaging for the sector, the auditor said that problems have existed for the last 70 years, but no attempts have been made to resolve the various issues plaguing the service.
Out of 500 railway stations, only 50 are computerised and have digital records. The top judge remarked that it was the irresponsible attitude and delay in the completion of projects which caused fundamental loss to the vital state institution. “The double-track plan has been delayed the last four years as well.”
Justice Nisar then directed the auditor to add recommendations to the report and submit it.