To put economy back on track, PM inaugurates business train

Published: February 3, 2012

While Pakistan Railways struggles to continue operations, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani finally inaugurated the first-ever Pakistan business train at the Lahore city station on Friday. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: While Pakistan Railways struggles to continue operations, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani finally inaugurated the first-ever Pakistan business train at the Lahore city station on Friday.

“The Pakistan business train is a landmark public-private venture and following this formula, the railways can work its way out of its financial crisis,” Gilani said.

The train is a joint venture of Pakistan Railways and a private company called MS Four Brothers. A contract was signed in August 2011 and it was decided that the train will start operating in 120 days. The project, however, ran into several delays to finally launch on Friday.

The prime minister said that public-private partnerships had become a necessity in order to revive the country’s ailing economy. “Similar partnerships can help the railways improve the condition of its freight trains and repair its machinery.”

The train left Lahore at around 3:30pm, carrying businessmen, journalists and railway officials including Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour.

“The finance ministry is hampering the railways’ recovery process by not providing a bailout package, which was approved by the cabinet in December 2010,” Bilour said, requesting the prime minister to look into the matter.

The train will simultaneously leave stations in Lahore and Karachi at 3:30pm daily and reach its destination in 18 hours, including technical stopovers at Khanewal in Punjab and Rohri in Sindh. Journeying time is later to be reduced to 15 hours.

The Pakistan Railways have provided two locomotives, 18 coaches, two dining cars and two luggage vans while the private company will manage the train commercially and provide quality services to passengers like customer care, luggage, bedding and food services. Along with an internet service, a paramedical staff of Rescue 1122 will be available for passengers. One-way ticket fare is Rs5,000 with a discount of Rs1,000 if a round-trip booking is made.

Two reservation centres have already been established at the Lahore and Karachi stations for ticketing. Service charges for food items will be charged in advance at purchasing the ticket. Special waiting rooms have been established with modern facilities such as internet access, restaurants and a pharmacy.

The private company has invested Rs225 million and will pay the railways around Rs1.5 million per trip and Rs1.148 billion per annum. An agreement has been signed for five years which is extendable to up to 10 years.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Nadir
    Feb 3, 2012 - 5:03PM

    Really? I am sure even the PM doesnt believe that inaugrating a train will put the “economy back on track”.

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  • Feb 3, 2012 - 5:29PM

    lol economy on track through business trains??? i m wondering how much will it effect our GDP :p

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  • Anonymous
    Feb 3, 2012 - 7:29PM

    Price of Air lines ticket who gonna waste eighteen hours hahahahahahaRecommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Feb 3, 2012 - 8:28PM

    Whp advices the PM, to get involved in such a Schemes, in this day and age when time is of essence and Air Travel cheaper at times too !Recommend

  • M. Siddique
    Feb 3, 2012 - 8:41PM

    This is good begning for pakistani public and buissness man community. Thinks to governmentRecommend

  • Baba Ji
    Feb 3, 2012 - 9:58PM

    The prime minister said that public-private partnerships had become a necessity in order to revive the country’s ailing economy

    well who nationalized whole Pakistan to gain cheap popularity ??? which party’s line was “Roti, kappra aur makaan” for jiyalas, compromising the economy of a jet set country ????? now the same party is looking into privatizations …… Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Feb 3, 2012 - 10:32PM

    @Baba Ji:
    The Country’s paying for ZAB’s Blunder in his policy of Nationalisation, however PPP can not simply acknowledge the fact, so now its being touted as Public private partnership !!

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  • gupshup
    Feb 3, 2012 - 10:45PM

    its not boostingthe economy, they ruined the govt owned train and those who were in the railways on responsible position did it delibarately to make its own private rail business successful, that is how the whole capitalist world revolving around the monetary benefits nevertheless this time they again followed unlawfull means,,,pak nation is ruining itself,, they dont deserve to live in the 12st century as they are not able to understand the changing circumstances.

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  • American Desi
    Feb 4, 2012 - 1:37AM

    This is trend world over. Ensure that public sector fails and then in the name of privatizing distribute the assets among the cronies of politicians for peanuts! Did they privatize this through open and transparent bidding or was it a no bid contract?! Way to go!

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  • Feb 4, 2012 - 4:13PM

    This is the beginning to privatize the whole railways. There is no better alternative. However, the government should have the right to decide the passenger fares taking into account the purchasing power of the common people.

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  • Feb 4, 2012 - 7:17PM

    In such circumstances ,it has become a rays of hope.

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