LAHORE: The financial deficit of the Pakistan Railways has been reduced and its operations have been improved considerably, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Saturday.
He was addressing the inaugural ceremony of the recently-completed double railway track from Lodhran to Raiwind at Premnagar. With the dualisation of track from Lodhran to Raiwind, the entire railway line from Lahore to Karachi has been doubled.
“The railway’s deficit has been brought down from Rs37 billion to Rs27 billion. The deficit will be further cut by more than Rs3.5 billion during the current year. Due to railway administration’s efforts, the number of passengers has been increased by 15 million,” he said.
The chief minister said that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a national project. “All of Pakistan’s federating units will benefit from it. Under the CPEC, $36 billion is being spent on energy projects. Out of which, $2.5 billion is being spent on energy projects in the Punjab and $9 billion in Sindh,” he said.
Shahbaz Sharif said that energy projects were also being set up in Gawadar, Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. “Punjab surrenders Rs11 billion annually to other provinces out of its share. Since the National Finance Commission Award was approved, the Punjab government has allowed Rs55 billion to be diverted to other provinces,” he said.
Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said that the day had a special significance in the history of railways. “We have finally succeeded in constructing a dual railway track from Karachi to Lahore. Work was carried out on this project on war footing,” he said.
Rafique said the government was taking the decisions required for the improvement of railways. “All operational matters are being decided at the Railways’ Headquarters. This is the only way to strengthen national institutions. The Railway Department is achieving its targets,” he said.
He said that merit was being promoted in the railways. “The department has been made free from politics,” he said.
The minister said that entire Pakistan would benefit from the CPEC. He said that those trying to make the project controversial were not doing a service to the nation. “The political parties should cooperate with the government in completion of the project of national importance,” he said.
Railways Secretary Perveen Agha briefed the participants on the project.
Earlier, Shahbaz Sharif and Saad Rafique inaugurated the new building of the Premnagar station and inspected the track.
Parliamentary Railways Secretary Syed Ashfaq Hussain Kirmani, Chief Executive Officer Railways Javed Anwar and Railways Chairperson Parveen Agha were present.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2016.