RAHIM YAR KHAN: As the current deficit of the Pakistan Railways (PR) stands at Rs13 billion, it will take 15 to 20 years more to make it a self-sufficient organisation, warned federal minister Khwaja Saad Rafique.
Speaking with citizen representatives and the media here on Tuesday, Mr Rafique said a Chinese railway company had been asked to repair the Rohri-Karachi railway section first.
The rickety section is notorious for causing a number of trains accidents claiming lives of passengers and frequent derailments.
The minister, who is on a whirlwind five-day tour to inspect different railway stations in the backdrop of recent floods, said due to the current economic scenario, the PR had become a victim of financial crisis because its infrastructure was badly damaged in Sindh and Balochistan by the calamity.
PR deficit rises to Rs13bn, says Saad
He said he could not run the passenger trains until the flood situation became clear.
“We are trying to get investment from international monetary institutions [for improving railways infrastructure],” he said.
He regretted that that ML-I (Main Line-I) project had already been delayed for four years and now its estimated cost had swelled to around Rs4 billion. He added that the framework agreement signed by the PML-N government before 2018 had expired now and he was trying for its revival within a month.
He alleged that former minister Sheikh Rashid dissolved the Project Management Unit (PMU), adding that he would rearrange the unit by manning it with honest officers within two weeks.The minister visited different portions of RYK railway station and later held a meeting with divisional superintendent of Sukkur division and RYK Chamber of Commerce and Industry member Farzand Ali Farhat, who is also campaigning for improvement of railways.
After the meeting, Mr Farhat told Dawn that the minister had pledged that the RYK railway station would be redesigned on the model of Bahawalpur railway station at a cost of Rs250 million and upgraded from Grade II to Grade III station, adding that the construction work for the purpose would be started soon.
The minister, he said, also announced stops of Sir Syed Express and Karakoram Express at RYK after approval of relevant quarters.
He said the minister said that a full AC coach for RYK passengers would be soon approved in both Up and Down Rehman Baba Express.
He added that the ticket quota for RYK railway station would be doubled in all trains after the restoration of tracks.
Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2022