PESHAWAR   -  Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Sunday said that if corruption is not eliminated even now, the country would not move forward, saying “People stand by Prime Minister Imran Khan for bringing a real change and rooting out corruption.”

People voted Imran Khan to make corrupt accountable and see them behind bars. However, those who are alleged of looting public money have been made chairman of Public Accounts Committee, he said in a reference to the Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif.

How Shehbaz Sharif can be made accountable, after becoming chairman PAC, an office, which is equal to a federal minister, he said.

Inaugurating Rehman Baba Express train service here at Peshawar Cantonment Railways station, he said that this service was aimed at facilitating low income people travelling between Peshawar and Karachi.  The Rehman Baba Express with 10 economy class coaches has the capacity of about 880 passengers.

Railways Minister inspected the newly rehabilitated passengers coaches, waiting rooms, and VIP waiting rooms at Cantonment Railways Stations and also directed Chairman, GM and DS Railways to immediately remove the encroachments from the stations and other areas.

The Rehman Baba Express will run between Peshawar and Karachi with a total journey time of 26 hours instead of 34 hours like earlier and a record low fare of Rs1,350.

This is a big achievement on the part of Pakistan Railways, saying, it is actually a gift of Prime Minister Imran Khan to the brave Pakhtoon nation of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, he said. It will pass through various cities including Nowshera, Attock, Rawalpindi, Wazirabad, Faisalabad, Toba Tek Singh, Multan, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Rohri, Nawabshah, and Hyderabad.

He said from January 1 the Pakistan Railways would launch a winter train service for one month. He disclosed that the tickets of the Rehman Baba Express have been sold out in advance.

Sheikh Rashid said that Rehman Baba Express would not only reduce the travelling time between Peshawar and Karachi but also facilitate passengers on affordable fares.

“We plan to upgrade the entire rail track from Karachi to Peshawar soon,” he informed.

Prominent among others present on the occasion included KP Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai, Adviser to Chief Minister on IT Kamran Bangash, Nazim Peshawar Muhammad Asim, Chairman Railways Raja Sultan Sikander, GM Aftab Akbar, Division Superintendent Waqar Ali Shahid, officials, workers and large number of passengers going to Karachi on Rehman Baba Express.

Apart from this, he said that some 20 new trains and three tourist trains would be launched in 2019. Besides, the government was also planning to start two VVIP trains along with fleet trains for business community from Karachi to Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and Peshawar.

Launching of these trains would certainly boost up tourism and trade activities and ultimately generate income, he said. About the ML-I, Sheikh Rashid said that an agreement would be inked in March next year for placing new railway track from Karachi to Peshawar.

After laying of new tracks from Peshawar to Karachi, it would become viable to run a train over a speed of 160 to 260 km per hour which could further decrease the travelling time between Peshawar to Karachi to 8 hours, Railways Minister was of the view. “We have introduced 20 trains in 100 days which is a record and it was not imported from elsewhere rather the workers and labourers of Railways worked day and night for complete revamping and rehabilitating the engines and other things to make ensure things in order,” he added.

Not only this, the PTI government was also going to introduce three safari trains to promote tourism, asking the KP government to help out railways ministry in this regard.

The Pakistan Railways, he said had four steam engines and currently in a process of renovation along with specially prepared coaches that would be running from Peshawar to Attock Kurd, Rawalpindi to Taxila and Karachi to Clinger.

Sheikh Rashid informed that it would be once a week and Railways would take all on board associated with these safari trains in the private sector in order to get more benefits besides providing much updated facilities to the tourists on board on these trains.

To facilitate the business and traders community, the Pakistan Railways will start running eight to 10 fleet trains carrying. From December 25, a container train would be opening up from Karachi and another similar one would be launched on January 25, 2019 to extend due facilities to the business and traders community.

He informed that Pakistan Railways needs Rs35 billion for pensions and Rs30 billion for salaries and Rs25 billion of loans to facilitate the passengers, business and traders communities on low rates are some big challenges.

However, we are committed to bring PR on track both financially and facilities wise, he explained.

At least two VVIP trains with higher fares would also be introduced from Peshawar to Karachi and Lahore to Karachi. They would be non-stop trains for well-off people who could afford highest fares with all facilities. It will also benefit PR financially, he said.

Sheikh Rashid said that it has also been decided to run a rail car train in the morning at 8am and 10am during fog from Lahore to Rawalpindi and Rawalpindi to Lahore to facilitate the general public, saying another similar rail car would also be launched soon to facilitate business and traders community from Peshawar to Lahore, which would boost economic activities across the country.

Earlier, KP Information Minister Shoukat Yousafzai thanked Sheikh Rashid Ahmad for launching Rehman Baba Express and asked to re-track and re-link Peshawar-Torkhum route for the tourism purposes and assured that KP provincial government would endure all out support to the Pakistan Railways.