LAHORE - Railways Minister Saad Rafique yesterday categorically refused to give his department’s land to KPK government for construction of Peshawar mass transit system.

“We repeatedly made it clear to KPK government that Railways’ land in Peshawar will be used for doubling of track which is the part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The KPK’s demand cannot be fulfilled and it can select some other place for Peshawar metro bus. Imran Khan must stop point scoring on the matter,” said Saad Rafique while adressing a rally of Pakistan Railways (PR) Labour Union here.

Railways minister said the he could not fulfill the KPK’s government’s request for using its land for the project.

PTI’s KPK government had requested the federal government to lease surplus land belonging to the PR along the railways track from Chamkani to Hayatabad for the proposed system. Imran Khan overwhelmingly has been criticizing the centre for creating “hurdles in the development of Khyber PK.” Pervaiz Khatak’s government in KP has linked many hopes to the project but the dream is not looking to be materialized at least in PTI’s present term in office.

Railways minister’s flat refusal on Monday has cleared all doubts about the fate of the proposed transit system.

The union took out the thanksgiving rally for Railways Labour Package. The minister some weeks ago had announced Rs390 million package for Railways low grade employees. Around 5,000 employees between grade 1 to grade 11 will get one-time benefit along with technical allowance under the package which had already been approved by the finance ministry. The package will be implemented from January 1, 2016 after getting approval from the prime minister who is yet to approve it. The payment will start soon after the approval from PM, said the railways spokesperson.

Khawaja Saad claimed that Railways was a role model for other sluggish departments of the country. If the Railways could come back on track then why not the other departments could overcome their deficits, he added.

The rally started from Diesel Shed and culminated at Railways Headquarters. Union leaders and employees addressed the rally and vowed to continue working hard to improve working of the Railways.

Our Islamabad reporter adds: Saad Rafique yesterday said that ten new passenger trains had been started in last three years. In a written reply to the National assembly, he said that average 106 passengers trains and 60 freight trains are operating on the system as compared to 96 passenger trains operated in June 2013.

He said presently 38 Mail and Express trains, 36 intercity, 14 Passenger, 6 Mixed 6 international and 6 shuttle trains are being run on the tracks of Pakistan Railways. He said that only one freight train was originating ex-port per day and now the number of freight trains originating from ports has increased to 10 per day, thus 60 trains at time are online against 09 trains in 2013.

Answering another question, he said that Pakistan Railways has taken over the commercial management of business express train from M/s Four Brothers, on October 2015, as they defaulted from the very first day of the start of train. They never paid agreed sum of Rs31,91,032 per day for a round trip, minister said.

He said the outstanding amount against Four Brothers exceeded two million rupees. He said Pakistan Railways had no option except to take over the management of the train on 28-10-2015 on vacation of stay order to avoid further loss.

He informed the house that the train has been fully refurbished and facilities have been upgraded and its composition has been changed from AC Business Class only to AC business, AC standard and economy classes, to facilitate more passengers and enhance earnings.