LAHORE: Pakistan Railways will have a ‘sub-headquarters’ in Karachi to boost its freight sector.
“Karachi is the hub of business and it is the need of the hour to make a sub-headquarters of the PR there to facilitate traders and businessman,” said Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed at a news conference at the railways headquarters here on Saturday.
“The number of freight trains is the same as it was when I had left the railways (as minister) 12 years ago. There is no improvement in the freight sector,” he said while promising to increase the number of freight trains from 10 to 15 within 120 days.
Says summary sent to PM for approval; railways to have sub-headquarters in Karachi
“We have achieved great success in the parcel goods sector,” he said.
The minister said the authorities concerned had been directed to submit a report about the causes that led to derailment of Khushhal Khan Khattak Express near Mianwali.
He said the railways had decided to operate three new trains from next month. One train would be operated between Lahore and Faisalabad from Oct 1, while Moenjodaro Express and Rohi Express would start from Oct 16.
In order to facilitate the passengers, reservation offices at divisional headquarters would remain open till midnight instead of 8pm, as is the case at present. Reservation offices would remain open round-the-clock by Dec 30 at Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Sukkur, Multan and other major cities, he said.
It was decided that private partners would asked to come forward and take over the Golra railway station to convert it into a food street and picnic spot. Tenders for the provision of clean drinking water and other facilities would soon be opened.
The minister said both the Main Line-I and Main Line-II were important for the country. ML-I had been kept under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) while in order to upgrade ML-II, the private sector would be invited to invest on a BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) basis.
The PR committee for investment opportunities would meet every Thursday to welcome investors, Mr Rashid said, adding that he wanted to sell two to three railway plots in Lahore and Karachi to overcome its deficit.
He also said that there was a dire need for recruitment of at least 10,000 employees on an urgent basis for which a summary was recently sent to Prime Minister Imran Khan for approval. The railways had been facing a shortage of 23,000 employees, he said.
He said around 600 passengers were travelling in the newly introduced trains on a daily basis. The number of passengers would further increase, as many people preferred not to travel during the first 10 days of Muharram, he observed.
He said the railways current deficit was Rs38 billion, and it was under Rs25 billion debt.
Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2018