LAHORE                     -                  Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, on Sunday, has said that train operations would be restored after the end of lockdown across the country. He said this while talking to the media at Lahore Railway Station after distributing food hampers among 1,000 porters, sanitary and washing-line employees of lower scale. 

He also saw off quarantine train comprising 30 coaches for Chaman , Balochistan to facilitate the citizens of the area. He said that the Pakistan Railways (PR) had established hospitals in all seven divisional headquarters including Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Multan, Sukkur, Quetta and Karachi to deal with the coronavirus cases.

He said that quarantine train to Chaman would be a complete hospital with two medical coaches which could facilitate 500 patients. The minister said that Railways was ready to send such mobile hospitals to Taftan or any other border, in case needed. “It is our suggestion that railways can provide mobile hospital to the nation in the hard times with the help of medical coaches made by the British rulers before independence”, he added.

The minister said that the National Disaster Management Authority had given 10,000 masks to the railways while it would soon provide more masks for the protection of workshop workers and other PR employees.

Sheikh Rasheed said that the PR implemented on lockdown a bit late and transported 2,650,000 citizens from Karachi by 20 special trains, whereas India implemented lockdown without planning and 88 people lost their lives while going to their hometowns on foot due to unavailability of  transport in India.

He said the railways was planning to provide tickets at the doorstep of people so that they could reach at railway stations safely on time.

The minister assured the porters that railways would try to arrange Rs 12,000 from Ehsaas Programme for each porter. To a question, he said that all TLA employees would be regularized till June, adding that their case had been late due to coronavirus pandemic.

Sheikh Rasheed hoped that Pakistan would finally overcome the coronavirus pandemic through national unity, discipline and awareness.

Addressing the ration distribution ceremony for porters at Lahore railways station, Sheikh Rasheed said that situation related to coronavirus pandemic is controlled in Pakistan.

He said that Pakistan Railways has donated Rs50.8 million in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s corona relief fund.

Sheikh Rasheed said that the Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had donated 3,000 bags to him to distribute among the porters in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

Sheikh Rasheed further said that PR was making strategy to send tickets to passengers at their homes in Karachi and Lahore on the resumption of train service.

Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said that forensic report of sugar price hike could get delayed by 10 days. He claimed that violators of section 144 were released in Balochistan and Punjab on his request. “It’s my request to Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to release section 144 violators as other provinces did”.

Commenting over the decision to resume railway operations, the minister said that they will make a decision after the lockdown ends on April 28.