ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel, Thursday, was informed that at least $50 billion financial resources are required to fully rehabilitate the Pakistan Railways (PR) system.
The Senate Standing Committee on Railways, which held its meeting here under the chairmanship of Senator Mohammad Qasim to discuss matters pertaining to PR was informed by the Federal Secretary Railways, Habibur Rehman Gilani, that at present, 84 trains were operational in the country.
He said that to turn PR into a profitable organisation, at least, 200 operational trains are required, adding that the PR has the capacity to attract at least 25 percent of the passengers travelling across the country by using various means of transportation.
He said that the government was making all possible efforts to turn the PR into a profitable utility for which various steps are being taken including public-private partnership based train operations.
Gilani, while briefing on the subject of privatisation process of the PR, further said that the management is ready to handover any passenger train to the private investors willing to pay 10 percent additional amount of the present earning of the train.
He said that as per new plan adopted by the management to end financial losses in the PR, in the next five years there will be no financial losses in the Railways.
He said to reduce the financial losses, the PR management is to start new trains from Quetta to Rawalpindi.
He stressed the need for allocating additional resources for the trains, saying railways was the best mean of transportation for not only goods but also for the passengers as it was the safest mean as compared with trucks, buses and others ways.
He said that so far, the government has focused on the construction of highways and motorways, while railways were almost ignored.
The panel was further informed that investment on laying of new railway tracks was inevitable and the management was working on it.
Briefing about the purchase of new coaches and the present situation, Gilani said that the ministry is to buy 230 new coaches which will significantly help reduce the current problems.
The secretary railways maintained that most of the present coaches were purchased 16 years ago, which have completed their life.
The previous government focused on the purchase of the railway engines, while the present government is focusing on the purchase of new railway coaches to attract and facilitate the passengers.
The committee was informed that Pakistan Railways was operating seven hospitals and the annual cost of maintaining these hospitals was Rs2 billion and the government has decided to outsource the hospitals to reduce financial burden on the railways.
The panel was informed that at present, around 30,000 positions in the railways were vacant as 65,000 employees are working, while sanction strength of 95,000.
To maintain the tracks, the PR had purchased machines but in the absence of trained staff all the machines were ruined.
The panel was further informed that the management was considering to outsource the track maintenance work to the private sector.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021