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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Railways (PR) has started rehabilitation work of 33.50-kilometer track ‘through sleeper renewal’ between Quetta-Bostan and Quetta-Chaman section.

“The track will not only facilitate the passengers, but also connect three major cities of the province,” an official source in the Ministry of Railways told APP.

He said railway network in Balochistan province mainly consisted of Quetta Division having Dera Allah Yar Sibi-Quetta, Quetta-Chaman, Sibi-Khost, Spezend-Dalbandin-Taftan, Bostan-Zhob which were closed for the last 15 years. He said there were two passenger trains namely Jaffer Express (40Up, 39 Down) and Chaman Passenger (349Up, 350 Down) operating in Balochistan while no stations had been closed during the last 15 years in Quetta division.

He said the overall length of the railway track in Balochistan was 1470.36 kilometer including the closed Bostan-Zhob section.

“The most of the track is more than one hundred year old and on certain stretches, engineering speed restrictions have been imposed due to deferred maintenance and owing to resource constraints,” he said adding that the routine maintenance of track was being carried out with available resources.

To improve railway services in Balochistan, he said the department was taking several steps like approval of PC-I for the track’s rehabilitation and the rehabilitation of another 100-km track between Ahmedwal Dalbadin on Quetta-Taftan section.

He said that 100-km rehabilitation of track between Nokundi Kohi-Taftan on Quetta-Taftan section while 160.024 kilometers rehabilitation of track between Bostan-Chaman on Quetta-Chaman section would be carried out.

He said tourist train’s two trips had been started between Quetta-Bostan while Bolan Mail passenger train would also be operational shortly to facilitate the passengers.

The source said the establishment of Chaman Terminal in collaboration with Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and track renewal Sibi-Khost section was also in progress

To a question, he said Pakistan Railways had suffered losses worth over Rs 150 billion during the last three-and-a-half years’ rule of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.

He said in addition to an amount exceeding Rs 130 billion in last three years, Pakistan Railways had a deficit of around Rs 20 billion in the first half of the current financial year. To control the deficit and earn more revenue, he said the department had introduced ‘Raabta’- a platform for the improvement of its financial conditions. Raabta was essentially an attempt to enhance customer facilitation via artificial intelligence. Around 60 million passengers have used Pakistan Railways annually, for which 40 percent of the tickets were sold using an outdated process without any audit, he said. To resolve this problem, Raabta allows customers to plan trips with the help of different options. Single interface customers can check train statuses, choose and purchase seats, book hotels, and order car rentals, meals, and refreshments.

Raabta also allowed passengers to lodge statuses during their journeys. They can book tickets through multiple platforms including mobile applications, websites, ticket agents, reservation officers, vending machines, and handheld devices, he added.

Furthermore, the platform also provided a freight and parcel booking system, a data centre, third-party agreements, business intelligence, and reporting system, the document said. The implementation of Raabta would incur zero costs to Pakistan Railways and the latter would get a fair share in ticket prices, freight, and value-added service.

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