Pakistan Railways cannot be rehabilitated overnight but it can be revived with the addition of new locomotives to its operational fleet, says Railways Chairman Arif Azim.
However, it will take more than a year before new engines become part of the fleet. “PR is procuring 302 new locomotives and the first batch is expected to be delivered by contractors after 16 months,” he said.
He was talking to the media at PR headquarters here on Wednesday at a ceremony marking the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for outsourcing the Night Coach.
The Shalimar Group managing partner and PR assistant general manager for traffic inked the MoU for running the Night Coach on public-private partnership model.
This is the third train after Shalimar and Business Express which has been outsourced by PR on the basis of public-private partnership.
According to details, the Night Coach consisting of 14 coaches will run daily between Lahore and Karachi via Faisalabad and Multan. The coaches include one AC sleeper, two AC standard, seven economy class, a power van, a luggage van, an AC dining car and a brake van.
The agreement says the train has been outsourced initially for five years to the Shalimar Group on a bid of Rs631.95 million. The group has offered investment of Rs81.838 million in value-added services.
It will deposit Rs100 million for repair of locomotives and deposit 10% of the contract amount per year as performance security. It will also pay Rs1.731 million to PR for every train journey.
The agreement can be extended for another five years on mutually agreed to terms and conditions.
According to Azim, PR is outsourcing good trains in an attempt to boost income as it is not in a position to rehabilitate infrastructure on its own. “The rehabilitation plan is being implemented side by side.”
He said income of all three trains would constitute about 26% of the total income of PR. The two trains already outsourced, he said, were operating successfully. Shalimar is doing good business and is fulfilling agreement’s terms and conditions, but PR has a dispute with the management of Business Express over default amount of Rs300 million.
However, despite the default, PR had not stopped operation of Business Express, believing this would add to the woes of passengers, he said. For the settlement of dues, PR has referred the matter to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) for a decision. “The decision will be implemented without taking any political and other pressure,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, PR General Manager Junaid Qureshi said, “We are presently serving passengers with 152 locomotives. Work is in progress to enhance the number of locomotives, which will definitely help enhance railway’s income.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 27th, 2012.
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