Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Tuesday informed the Senate that PC-1 for ML-1 railway track from Peshawar to Karachi had already been submitted to the Planning Commission for its approval, while tendering process for the project would start within 3-4 months. Responding to various questions during Question Hour, the minister said around five years time-frame would be required for the completion of the project.
Sheikh Rashid said the government had a plan to extend the old Peshawar-Torkham route to Jalalabad under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The new route would also ensure the direct flow of Afghan international transit to Afghanistan, he added. He said 385 acres of railways land was retrieved from the encroachers besides taking back Royal Palm.
He said railway track from Nowshera to Dargai had been opened after 22 years and timber was being transported through it. To another question, the minister said Pakistan Railway had started 24 new trains and earned additional Rs 4.938 billion. PR also earned Rs 54 billion during last year, he added.
Pakistan Railways had reduced its deficit to Rs.32.769 billion for financial year 2018-19 as compared to the deficit of Rs.36.622 billion for financial year 2017-18, he said. The minister said the deficit was decreased by Rs.3.853 billion, but despite that Pakistan Railways had to spend an additional amount of Rs.3.169 billion on account of increases in high speed fuel prices, pay, pension and depreciation of rupee against dollar.
To a question, he said there were over 3000 unmanned railways crossing on Peshawar to Karachi track and ML-1 would help end such crossings.
Meanwhile Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed Tuesday informed the Senate that Pakistan Railways (PR) adopted free track policy and private company could operate trains.
Responding to various supplementary questions during Question Hour, the minister said the private sector could operate trains by using PR facilities.
He said that 14 new trains were launched during the last one year. Mostly these trains were launched in far flung areas, he added.
The minister said a new train from Darigai to Karachi would be launched during 2020.
There was 120 per cent occupancy in Rehman Baba Express running between Peshawar to Karachi, he added. He said railway track had been laid in Sibi and it would be operationalized after security clearness.—APP