RAWALPINDI: Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Thursday vowed that he would improve train services, saying that he has challenged himself to finish off the burdening losses faced by the organisation.
The Awami Muslim League (AML) chief, who is now a part of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet, said they have inherited a debt-ridden organisation by the previous ‘dishonest and corrupt’ leaders, and now it is his responsibility to improve them,
“I have inherited debts of Rs35-40 billion and I have been informed that everything is fine, but that reality is a lot different,” he said. “I accept this challenge to waive the debts and losses.”
Sheikh Rashid said people want a comfortable train travel, and he would not rest but instead work tirelessly to improve the affairs of the railways. “I promise that railways will be improved. It is my responsibility,” he said,
Highlighting the gravity of the situation, he said that the annual expenditure were around Rs9bn and he has instructed to the Divisional Superintendent Rawalpindi to reduce expenditures.
He also said that they would utilise the abundant land resources of the railways as they do not have financial means, and are even willing to rent out railway platforms for commercial activities.
He added that thirty-one railways stations are being upgraded and apartments will be constructed for lower-grade employees. “I want to take the railways even where there are no road,” he stated.
He said that locomotives belong to freight trains and not passenger trains, and that freight charges at Karachi will be raised. He added that only profitable trains will be reinstated, and he would run new train services from Karachi to Sukkur, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Mianwali.
He further said that the matter of encroachment of railways properties will be taken in the meeting of the federal cabinet, and that the encroachers shoud pay the price to the authorities.
Sheikh Rashid said that they will be no political victimisation, and he will not remove anyone from their position, but added they do not want ten thousand people in the railway police.
He said that stations, plazas, and food streets will be set up through private partnership allowing them to invest for over twenty years, but the ownership will remain with the railways.
He added that the previous government purchased locomotives from the a United States company at a much higher prices than India.
He said that many overseas Pakistanis are interested in investing and have even offered to bring bullet trains, but he told them that it was a very expensive project and they should fix their own trains first.