It is positive to see Pakistan Railways (PR) and the government on the same page as far as engaging privately-owned firms in railways’ operation is concerned. Inviting private railway companies to participate in railways operation is a standard practice in many countries, including Japan and the United States (US). It will help in creating competition. Also, with the private sector in the business, services and operations will see a significant improvement, if investment is made a mandatory precondition in entering this industry.

Railways are indeed the future. A brief look at just the ML1, a railway project connected to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), is testament to this fact. ML1 alone will increase traffic and provide opportunities for freight services, which is why the government has taken the right step with this decision.

However, a few things need to be taken care of beforehand. While inviting private companies to a lucrative business, especially once CPEC becomes fully operational, the government should bring them in with an understanding that these companies will invest in infrastructure consistently. The state has limited resources. It cannot invest everywhere. However, it can ensure the ease of doing business for these private companies. If the authorities remove hurdles that create hurdles in business, many companies will come forward to accept the condition of investing in the railways’ infrastructure, upgrading tracks and stations that have fallen into disrepair.

It is high time for the government to leave no stone unturned to encourage the private sector’s participation in railway operations. Contribution of private firms will not only assist the ministry in the provision of services but also reduce the load on it. Another benefit, which perhaps is more significant than any other that PR can accrue from the decision, is revenue generation. The ministry can become one of the highest contributors to the economy. The government needs to look at India where the railway industry is keen on making India a $ 5 trillion economy. Hopefully, the government’s decision of inviting private companies will allow PR to recover its lost market share in transport and logistics.