Pakistan Railways on higher trajectory

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THANKS to the untiring and sincere efforts of Federal Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq and hard work of management and workers, Pakistan Railways seems to be gradually coming out of woods. No doubt, a lot more still needs to be done but it is quite encouraging that instead of sliding down to oblivion due to massive losses, Railways has started earning handsomely and that too without incurring any worthwhile government funds. It earned Rs 36.58b in financial year 2015-16 as against the targeted Rs 32b.
In most countries of the globe, railway plays an increasingly important role, underpinning jobs and driving economic growth and that is why they invest significantly on this mode of transportation by way of upgradation of tracks and modernisation of trains. Late Tony Judt, a professor at New York University, highlighted the impact of railways on society pointing out that no competing form of transport, no subsequent technological innovation, no other industry has wrought or facilitated change on the scale that has been brought about by the invention and adoption of railways. Despite invention of faster and personal modes of transport, railways is still a preferred mode of travel and transportation of goods because of reasons of economy, peace of mind and environmental considerations. In this backdrop, initiative of the Minister on Monday to invite private sector to run freight trains for mutual benefit would not only help improve PR finances but also ensure profitable investment for private sector. It is good that PR has spared necessary trains for freight purposes and increased use of goods train for transportation of material from Karachi to upcountry and vice versa would result in substantial reduction of transportation cost. But we may point out that the Minister has done his part of the job i.e. mobilising the existing resources and potential and putting the PR on higher trajectory and now it is government responsibility to invest in the sector substantially. Railways communication system and tracks need to be upgraded while Railway workshops also require technological upgradation besides imparting of latest skills and knowledge to its workers.