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Pak Railways announces running of 5 special trains on Eid
09-04-2010, 12:35 PM
Post: #1
Pak Railways announces running of 5 special trains on Eid
* Railway Ministry facing a deficit of Rs 40 billion and finding it difficult to maintain running

* Fedreal government in favour of privatisation

By Zeeshan Javaid

ISLASMABAD: Pakistan Railways has announced running of five special passenger trains for the convenience of people traveling for Eidul Fitar holidays. This gesture on behalf of the department is to facilitate the traveler celebrate Eid with his family, even though the railway sector is facing severe financial crisis.

Sources in the Ministry of Railways informed Daily Times that the Pakistan Railways would provide these services to people commuting between Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi.

The first passenger train would leave Karachi Cantt for Peshawar Cantt on September 7 followed by the second one from Karachi Cantt at 1pm on September 8 for Lahore. The third train is scheduled to leave Lahore for Rawalpindi on September 9. The fourth train would leave Rawalpindi at 11am for Lahore and the fifth one would leave Peshawar Cantt on September 10 at 5:30pm for Lahore.

Pakistan Railway has a total of 220 passenger trains and has decided to shut down 102 of them due to financial constraint faced by the ministry that was also one of the reasons for not providing its services during the urs of Lal Shahbaz Kalandar. Railways have also been a popular source of transport during urs and other important festivals.

The department has a total of 590 engines, out of which 290 locomotives are out of order and obsolete and the remaining are in extremely poor conditions to continue functionality. However, in case the federal government made arrangement to provide new locomotive engines only then could the train services be rehabilitated.

Sources in the Railway Ministry said that it is facing a financial deficit of around Rs 40 billion because of corruption, lack of locomotives and losses incurred due to the running expenses. According to reports Rs 21 billion is spent on wages and pensions every month leaving the department less or nothing for maintenance. The federal government had decided to split Pakistan Railways into four companies while the Cabinet Committee on Restructuring (CCoR) of public sector enterprises has approved of Pakistan Railways (PR) to be split into four companies namely passenger, freight, manufacturing and asset management according to a restructuring plan.

However, Pakistan Railway Workers Association Vice President Junaid Awan said that the present ministry’s administration is responsible for the current meagre situation of one of the most profitable department of the country.

According to different studies, railways besides providing a reasonable fare for local travelers could be extremely beneficial for foreigners wanting to get a feel of the terrain of the country and get acquainted with the culture and the different language dialect of the common man. Traveling is a proved means of getting familiar with the culture of a place and the people. At the same time, once properly maintained it could boost the tourism industry as well. Awan said that the Federal Minister for Railways Ghulam Ahmed Bilour had always been interested in privatisation of the Pakistan Railways. Awan hinted at a personal agenda behind Bilour’s concentration.
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