LAHORE: Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has said that all special railways saloons including prime minister and minister's saloon will be available on rent to the public.
Addressing a press conference at the PR headquarters here on Wednesday, he said that these special saloons could be booked through online portal and the railways was getting services of the students of the National College of Arts for decorating these coaches.
He said that dinning cars would also be attached with these coaches so that these saloons could be utilised for special functions and marriage ceremonies.
The minister said that Prime Minister Imran Khan would inaugurate newly renovated Lahore Railway Station and VIP train Jinnah Express on March 30.
He alleged that the previous government had spent billions of rupees on unnecessary railway stations like Narowal, Sahiwal and Raiwind whereas the main stations like Lahore and Karachi were ruined.
"We have started renovation of these stations including washing lines which will cost Rs 50 million," he added.
He said that income of Narowal station was not more than Rs0.6 million, but around one billion rupees had been spent on up-gradation of the station. He said that the railways did not have capacity to maintain those railway stations where billions of rupees were spent.
The minister said that new VIP train Jinnah Express would complete its distance between Lahore and Karachi in 15 hours. He said that tender process for services of GreenLine train had been completed and the train would be available in Rs6500 fare with facilities of two meals, one breakfast, cleanliness, WiFi and bedding. "Forty private parties participated in the process, from them one party was finalised on merit," he added.
The minister said that 90 per cent booking for GreenLine was completed till April 15. He said that fare for GreenLine and Jinnah Express trains would be the same.
He said that tenders for new coaches would be opened on March 28, as the railways was facing shortage of coaches and freight trains and the PR had invited international tenders for the purpose.
Sheikh Rashid said that another VIP train Sir Syed Express would become operational from June 30.
He said that diesel coaches were available for freight and Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) had directed the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) to start work for operating 3,000 freight coaches. "Hopefully, freight will be doubled with utilisation of diesel coaches," he added.
The minister said that the PR earned additional Rs32.97 million in the passenger sector compared with the previous year's corresponding period." He said that ML-1 was a revolutionary project of the railways and the government would be able to complete it in three phases, and its details would be finalised during the upcoming visit of the prime minister to China.
"We wish an agreement in this regard is signed in the presence of Prime Minister Imran Khan," he added.