LAHORE – Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Friday inaugurated the first Pak Business Express between Lahore and Karachi at Lahore Railways Station.
He was accompanied by Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, Railways Minister Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah, Federal Minister for National Heritage and Integration Samina Khalid Ghurki and others. Strict security measures had been arranged by the Railways Police and other security agencies.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, PM Gilani said he was pleased to inaugurate the Business Express, which was a landmark of public-private partnership in the history of Pakistan Railways. This deluxe train service was equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, compatible with modern-day demands of the businessmen travelling between Lahore and Karachi, he said, adding the train would set new standards for the public sector to improve its levels of performance on sustainable basis.
“This is the first train to be run in the Public-Private Partnership mode, and shall not only introduce the private business to passenger operations on the rails for the very first time but also provide Pakistan Railways with an insight into the dynamics of the private sector. We are already well aware of the private sector’s potential and capacity as an engine of economic growth. It is keeping this in mind that public sector monopolies are being increasingly outsourced to provide better services to the public while protecting and enhancing revenues for the state at the same time. Pakistan Railways, in its efforts to provide better travel facilities, has embarked on a new era with great expectations in the sphere of Public-Private Partnership in train operations.” He said that he was confident that this partnership will infuse a new spirit in providing efficient services to passengers and will be instrumental in reviving the Pakistan Railways.
“I am delighted to see that the Railways Administration has fulfilled the demand of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry for an Express Train connecting Lahore and Karachi. I also appreciate the initiative of M/s Four Brothers International (Private) Ltd., who has pledged to invest a minimum of Rs225 millions for commercial management and passenger facilitation of the Business Express.”
He said that the initiative taken today will provide impetus to induct corporate culture in other sectors of the economy. This break-through, we hope, will lead to a meaningful interaction between the private sector and the government for future cooperation in other domains of railway activities, especially the freight sector and perhaps also manufacturing of railway machinery, he added.
“At the same time, we are also on the verge of a Track Access regime, which will provide the private sector with a unique opportunity to avail the untapped capacity on the railway network by importing locomotives, freight wagons and moving freight across the country. This will relieve pressure on the main highways and also improve the efficient transportation of goods in the country.”
The PM said that being an ex-Minister for Railways, Pakistan Railways was very close to his heart and during the recent past especially, he had been reviewing the progress of railways with a view to putting it back on track. He said that he could not promise an overnight solution but the wheels are already in motion and Inshallah we will succeed in providing the service of reasonable quality.
“There have been substantial improvements but a lot more needs to be done by Pakistan Railways to expand its capacity and improve its services to match the demands of the transport market in the best traditions of the railway sector. At the same time, I am cognizant of all the constraints that Pakistan Railways is currently facing in terms of acute shortage of locomotives, depleting rolling stock and slow pace of rehabilitation and up-gradation of railway infrastructure.”