Railways running in deficit for last 15 years

Railways’ deficit was Rs3.2 billion in 2004-05, which rose to Rs9.1 billion in next year and continued rising


Rizwan Shehzad   January 25, 2021
PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati on Monday informed the National Assembly that Pakistan Railways has been running in deficit for the last 15 years.

While responding to a question during the question hour, the minister shared details of the deficit of Pakistan Railways from 2004-05 to 2019-20.

According to the written answer, railways’ deficit was Rs3.2 billion in 2004-05, which rose to Rs9.1 billion in the next year and continued rising year after year.

The reply states that the deficit jumped from Rs12.6 billion to Rs18.6 billion in 2008 and 2009. Then, the reply states, it reached to Rs20.1 billion the next year; Rs26.9 billion in the next year and reached to Rs30.5 billion in 2012-13 -- the time PPP government was completing its tenure.

During the PML-N tenure, the deficit rose to Rs32.5 billion in the first year but it was reduced to Rs27.2 billion in 2014-15. In the next year, it was further reduced to Rs26.9 billion.

However, it jumped from Rs26.9 billion to Rs40.7 billion in 2016-17. In 2017-18, it stood at 36.6 billion.

In 2018-19 – when the PTI government came to power – the document shows that the deficit was decreased to Rs32.7 billion before it jumped to Rs50.1 billion in 2019-20.

The minister’s written reply came in response to a question filed by PML-N’s MNA Ali Gohar Khan, who asked for the details of deficit in the railways department from 2005 to 2020; and the steps taken or being taken by the government to reduce the deficit.

While responding about the immediate steps being taken to decrease the railways deficit, the railways minister stated that the Freight Deposit Account (FDA) agreement and MoUs worth Rs2.5 billion have been signed with different companies.

To attract traffic to Railways, it said, competitive freight rates were introduced, adding that high capacity and High Speed Hopper Trucks have also been inducted in the current fleet for swift movement and unloading of coal.

The answer said that outsourcing of commercial management of two cargo express trains has resulted in an earning of Rs1,274.36 million per annum.

In addition, it said, passenger fares have been revised comparative to road rates which has resulted in a significant increase in the number of passengers and a proportional increment in revenue generations.

Moreover, it continued, outsourcing of commercial management of Lasani Express, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Attock Passenger Train, Jand Passenger Train, Freed Express and Mehr Express was completed, adding Pakistan Railways was earning Rs1,539 million from them and the bid offered totals at Rs1,718 million resulting in a benefit of Rs179 million per annum.

It added that outsourcing of eight other trains was underway.

As opposed to the notion that the session would be marred with protest by the opposition benches, the lawmakers smoothly continued the question answer session and took a break for Magrib prayers.

When the session resumed, a lawmaker from opposition benches pointed out quorum, resultantly, the session was adjourned till Tuesday evening.

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