LAHORE - Pakistan Railways (PR) income increased to Rs40 billion in 2016-17, (Rs4.53 billion more than the target), which was only Rs18 billion in 2012-13, said Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique.

While highlighting PR’s four years performance, he said that upgradation of the department was focused during these four years and the number of freight trains reached 3,318 from 182, while various agreements were also signed with various companies. He said that in 2013, there were only eight locomotives, while now this number has increased to 102 and the total number of operational engines has reached 325 from 160.

“Pakistan Railways witnessed a record increase of 20 million rail passengers and 755 kilometre track has also been renewed in these four years,” he added. He said that so many initiatives have been taken by the management to improve the situation including e-ticketing, duplicate ticket, modern computerised inter-locking system at 22 railway station, adding that 180 residential flats for class three and four employees have also been constructed in Lahore, Karachi and Narowal which would be completed in December 2017.

“The situation was the worst when we launched revival of the railway in 2013. Some people asked for privatisation and some suggested closing down the department, terming it fruitless. But now Pakistan Railways is being upgraded with its own income and its income is being increased more than 31 percent per anum,” he added.

The minister said that the past ministers did nothing for the department in 70 years history of Pakistan, which is regrettable. He said that no department could be developed without elimination of political interference. But now the issue has been resolved to a large extent and every recruitment was made purely on merit, he added. He said that Pakistan Railways has planned to install traffic signals and sirens at railway gates and with the help of Pakistan Army’s sub department, a pilot project would be started soon.

“Pakistan Railways needs $30 billion in the next 10 years and if CPEC, an economy booster, is implemented, it will set the department in the right direction,” he said. He said that politics of allegations and lies should be ended in the country as various projects could not be launched due to sit-ins. He said that 1,055 acres land of Pakistan Railways has been retrieved from the land grabbers, adding that he would do anything to get vacated the remaining lands.

He said that a reformed service structure in the PR has been promised and a committee is working on it.