Take Railways forward

ABOUT five years ago, Pakistan Railways had almost come to a standstill due to sheer negligence of the then government. It was described as a sinking ship just like some other institutions such as the PIA. Though the PML (N) government faltered on many fronts, yet it will be unfair not to credit former Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique who not only saved the Railways from sinking but also put it on smooth sailing, restoring not only the confidence of commuters on the Railways through bringing improvement in its service but also reduced its losses to a considerable level through a number of important initiatives such as restoring the freight service.
Though Pakistan Railways is still faced with annual deficit of Rs 35-40b yet with dedication and sound professional approach, as also pointed out by new Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed, the Railways can be transformed into a self-sufficient entity. Addressing a news conference on Saturday in Lahore and a day earlier in Rawalpindi, Sheikh Rasheed referred to some viable solutions to increase revenue of Pakistan Railways. Indeed the department has a vast land and by engaging the private sector, this land can be used in a meaningful manner for revenue generation. The ambitious plan that new Railways Minister put forth for reforms also include cutting expenditures, upgrading railway stations, generating 20,000 jobs and dualisation of the track with investment from China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and planting trees on both sides of the railway track.
Indeed the multi billion dollars CPEC project offers a great opportunity to upgrade the train network in the country and we expect that Sheikh Rasheed will immediately engage with the Chinese to give practical shape to the plan. The dualisation of main track from Karachi to Peshawar will pave the way for enhancing speed of the trains greatly reducing the journey time. On the one hand it will attract more passengers to Railways and boost intra country trade while on the other hand it will also have strategic benefits for bolstering trade and economic relations with Afghanistan and the Central Asian States. Thus, the prospects of Pakistan Railways are bright and one is confident that Sheikh Rasheed will not miss any opportunity in order to make Pakistan Railways a shining example of efficiency, exemplary service and ample revenue earning department.

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