ISLAMABAD: Ministry of Railways will spend Rs22.8 billion to execute 37 projects for rehabilitation of its infrastructure and reinvigorating services in the fiscal year 2012-13, transforming the organisation into a profit-making entity.
“During fiscal 2013, the priority will be given to the procurement of new locomotives as Pakistan Railways is currently facing a shortage of 500 locomotives,” Federal Minister for Railways Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour told APP on Monday.
He said that an amount of Rs6.1 billion has been sanctioned as a commercial loan for the repair of 96 locomotives. Bilour said that the Planning Commission has approved three major schemes at a cost of Rs35 billion to support the railways’ revival. A letter of interest has been issued for rehabilitation of 27 locomotives, he added. Tenders for obtaining 150 new locomotives are also under evaluation. He further added that 150 coaches will be manufactured during the year. Project for building double tracks between Karachi and Lahore is projected to be completed by December 2012.
Bilour said that a project management unit was being established to execute projects smoothly, avoiding any procedural delays. “Two dry ports will be set up at Prem Nagar and at Shershah railway station for which Rs494 million and Rs485 million have been allocated respectively,” the minister said.
To a question he said that average age of locomotives is 33 years in Pakistan while the rest of the world implements a 20 year age limit. More than 55% of the track is over-aged, 70% of the freight wagons are low-capacity and 86% of bridges are a century old. He said that the signalling system of the PR is mostly obsolete.
Annual earnings up to June 20, 2012 were Rs14.92 billion compared to Rs18.04 billion during the same period last year. He said that the ministry has planned short-term solution to keep PR functional. It plans rationalisation of services including stoppage of uneconomical routes, repair of old locomotives and reactivate PR board. Keeping in view these measures, “We expected that PR revenues will increase to Rs23 billion for the year 2012-13.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2012.