LAHORE - The Pakistan Railways (PR) Saturday signed an agreement was with General Electric (GE) to procure 55 locomotives.

PR Director Procurement Ziauddin Ahmed Qureshi and Mr Ishfaq, representative of General Electric of the United States, signed the agreement here at Railways Headquarters.

Addressing a press conference, Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique, who oversaw the signing of the agreement, said today was a historic day for the Pakistan Railways, as it was going to procure locomotives of 4,000 to 4,500 horse power from a company whose export profile was good. In future also all procurements would be made from companies having good export profile and no compromise in this regard would be made, he added.

He said that the PR was fulfilling its promise of procuring modern items as the GE was one of the best companies in the world.

Saad Rafique said out of 55 completely built-up (CBUs) locomotives, 23 to 24 would be used for the Sahiwal Coal Power project, 10 for Bahawalpur project and the remaining would also be used for coal operation.

He said that the first shipment of the locomotives would arrive in 16 months. These locomotives, he said, remained operational more than their age and would return their price in three years.

Pakistan Railways was also focusing on manufacturing locomotives in Pakistan and for the purpose it would reach an agreement with a company giveing best offer for transfer of technology (TOT) in Rasalpur factory.

The minister said soon Eid operation would be announced. The Green Line train, he said, was running successfully with 100 per cent occupancy. He said the PR wanted to add value to two to three trains in current fiscal year.

The minister said service structure would be made for employees in Grade 1 to 16, adding that companies would be invited through open advertisement for this purpose. To a question, he said that the PR had set its priorities and work would be carried out in all areas in steps. PR Chief Executive Officer Javed Anwar and other officials were also present.