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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Railways Azam Swati has said that the ministry has requested the Ministry of Finance for Rs23 billion for the upgradation of Railway tracks on war footing in a bid to fix the 473 kilometers dangerous railway track.

He said this, while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Railways, here on Monday, which held its meeting under the chairmanship of Senator Mohammad Qasim.

The minister briefed the participants of the meeting about the overall working and performance of Ministry of Railways and the recent train accident at Ghotki.

The participants of the meetings also offered prayers for the victims of the tragic incident of Ghotki.

The Chairman committee emphasised to take a briefing on the Ghotki accident to which the officials briefed the committee that Millat Express de-railed near Reti, its 12 coaches de-railed, five out of the derailed coaches capsized towards the down track, infringing the passage of down line.

In the meanwhile, Sir Syed Express bound for Karachi hit the de-railed coaches of Millat Express, three coaches of Sir Syed Express derailed, up and down tracks passage was blocked as a result of the unfortunate accident.

The officials said that as per latest information provided by the Chief Medical Officer Railways, 63 passengers died, while 106 were injured.

The official apprised the committee that the defect was in the rolling stock.

The official said that a detailed inquiry had been ordered into the matter, to ascertain the exact cause of the accident.

The Minister for Railways said that railways had reached that position due to wrong policies, adding recruitment had been given priority over business in railways.

He told the committee that Rs80 million had not been released to improve the condition of railway wagons, which had caused a loss of Rs1.09 billion from those 374 railway wagons.

Azam Swati said the railway repair shops were not capable of repairing coaches. If coaches were repaired from railway workshops, it would be de-railed.

He said that an amount of Rs32 billion were spent on railway signals but the performance was zero. “I have taken this matter to Chairman NAB, Railway freight revenue will increase sharply,” he said.

Expressing grief on the tragic incident, Azam Swati said the initial investigation had been completed into the train accident and details of the investigations would be made public as well as presented before the panel.

He said up to Rs1.5 billion electricity theft was taking place in the Railways every year, and he had directed the concerned officials to check it on an urgent basis.

“Railways and Wapda employees are responsible for the theft.”

The mafias were present in every department of the Pakistan Railways, he added.

The Railways was receiving a fare of Rs9,000 per container after upgrading its dry ports, he maintained.

Swati said the railway track from Sukkur to Khanpur was being upgraded, adding Rs 23 billion had been demanded from the Prime Minister for 473 tracks. The Prime Minister has directed to make PC-1.

The official apprised the committee that they were also trying to run Islamabad-Istanbul-Tehran freight.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed asked what action was taken on the repeated letters regarding railway accidents by the Divisional Superintendent Sukkur.

Swati said the main line of Sukkur Division was not in a good condition but Ghotki accident occurred where the track was excellent.

It is not right that the railway track was damaged at the site of the accident.

The Railway Minister said that work was being done on war footing as per the directive of the prime minister. The railway line from Tando Adam to Khanpur will be upgraded. After the completion of the project, railway traffic will be able to pass at a speed of 140kmph.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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