LAHORE - Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed has said the prime minister's approval would be sought for recruitment of 23,000 new employees in the Pakistan Railways. About 10,000 skilled employees were needed on urgent basis for improvement of services, he added.

Addressing a press conference here, he said the prime minister had already sought a report regarding the Railway land within 15 days.

He would request Prime Minster Imran Khan for issuance of an ordinance for the sale of Pakistan Railways land to overcome its deficit.

The PR will bring private partners and builders for the renovation and upgradation of railway stations, he added. The minister said the performance of railway hospitals was very poor, which would be handed over to the private sector on public-private partnership basis.

The minister said helpers of the blind and other disabled persons would be given 50 percent concession in fare while wheelchairs of the disabled would be transported in the luggage van without any charges. Sheikh Rasheed said two more upgraded trains, including Moenjodaro Express and Rohi Express, would become operational soon.

He said the main focus of the current Railway administration would be on improving the freight sector as it was its lifeline. One or two freight trains will be privatised on test basis for the betterment of the freight sector, he added.

The minister said unfortunately the previous government had spent big amounts on the renovation of railway stations. The job could, he said, have been done with a lesser amount, but about Rs 400 million was spent on each station.

He said the prime minister had been requested to revise one scale up of the Railway labourers.  The minister said the facilities of WiFi and tracking system in trains would be provided in 100 days. He said the people would soon hear more good news, like plying a labour train for labourers. To a question, he said no slum settlements on the railway land would be disturbed on the direction of the prime minister.