News Analysis |
Pakistan railways is set to launch three new train routes. These routes would operate between Kohat-Rawalpindi, Karachi-Mirpurkhas, and Sibbi-Khost said a railway ministry official. “Currently, 104 passengers and 60 trains, including 12 freight trains, are operative in the system on a day to day basis.”
Speaking to a publication, he informed that in 2013-14, Pakistan Railways was struggling with a Rs. 33.50 billion deficit, which was brought down to Rs. 32.35 billion through the reduction of expenditure and increasing revenue. In 2014-2015 the deficit was reduced to Rs. 27.246 while in 2015-16 it was brought down to Rs. 26.993 billion.
The details of the current fiscal year, 2016-2017 are being accumulated. The speculation about the 2016-2017 railways deficit is that it may have increased due to the increments in salaries and pensions announced earlier this year.
The existing track on the main corridor (ML-I) is being upgraded under CPEC to elevate the speed of passenger and freight trains and improvise the turn around of wagons and locomotives.
Another official confirmed that Pakistan Railways has launched a project to upgrade Main Line-1 (Peshawar to Karachi) and develop a new dry port near Havelian. These initiatives have been taken up under the banner of China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The project includes upgrading the railway system from Peshawar to Karachi, which includes Taxila to Havelian section having a speed of 160/120 km/hr, modern signaling system, upgraded stations and rolling stock. A framework has been concocted and agreed upon which was signed between the government of China and Pakistan on May 2017.
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Pakistan Railways has been cited as the only government organization that has turned itself profitable since 2013. In a report presented to the national assembly in May 2017, it was informed that Pakistan Railways was earning Rs. 4.416 billion annually after outsourcing the commercial management of four passenger trains as compared to the earning of Rs. 1.761 billion before outsourcing.
Another proposal for out-sourcing of commercial management of Cargo Express train (503UP/504Dn) between Karachi Bandar-Faisalabad via Multan City is under process. The commercial management of Cargo Express train, carrying 27 high capacity wagons has been out-sourced under Public Private Partnership (PPP) running between Karachi Bandar-Badami Bagh/Lahore on a daily basis.
A major portion of this fuel is currently being transported via road transit and it has recently been contested, in light of the Oil Tanker tragedy in Bahawalpur.
Mr. Ahmed Nadeem, a former Railway instructor, told GVS that as a fruit of these efforts, the number of freight trains setting out from the port has increased to 12 per day which was less than one train per day in June, 2013. Pakistan Railways has also improved the availability of locomotives in its freight pool; the numbers of locomotives have been increased to 95 from a mere eight in 2013, he said.
The addition of 55 brand new dedicated and freight specific locomotives of 4000 to 4500 HP in the freight pool has also been made in the past two years as part of the steps taken to make Pakistan Railways a substitute for cargo transportation in the country, replacing road mass transit.
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The revenues from the freight sector, which were Rs. 1.9 billion in June 2013, have risen to Rs. 10.768 billion in June 2017, registering an unprecedented 567 percent growth, official sources said. Highlighting another initiative, railway sources quoted that a memorandum of understanding has been signed with Pakistan State Oil (PSO) in May 2017 for the transportation of two million tons of fuel per year.
Mr. Ahmed Nadeem, a former Railway instructor, told GVS that as a fruit of these efforts, the number of freight trains setting out from the port has increased to 12 per day which was less than one train per day in June, 2013.
A major portion of this fuel is currently being transported via road transit and it has recently been contested, in light of the Oil Tanker tragedy in Bahawalpur. Freight Deposit Account (FDA) based agreement with Maple Leaf Cement Factory and MoUs with other companies have been signed for transportation of coal as an extension of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor’s coal-energy faction.
The existing track on the main corridor (ML-I) is being upgraded under CPEC to elevate the speed of passenger and freight trains and improvise the turn around of wagons and locomotives. The negotiations are underway to re-introduce international container train on Islamabad Zahidan-Istanbul route.
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Currently, the preliminary design of the project is under review and it is expected that the work on the ground would be started early next year. Recently, UBL Omni, an online money transit facility under the flagship of United Bank Limited, achieved a milestone of Rs. 1 billion in collections for Pakistan Railways under the country’s first ever e-ticketing facility. UBL Omni had initiated this project of providing e-ticketing facilities to Pakistan Railways’ customers for three trains in August 2016.