LAHORE - Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed yesterday reiterated his stance to replace PR’s broad-gauge tracks with that of standard gauge, claiming it was the only way to end corruption in the public utility and bring back it’s lost glory.

 The overseas Pakistanis, he said while taking to the journalists at Lahore Railways Station, were ready to invest huge money in the Pakistan Railways (PR) once the government started work on it.

“People will see countless addition of locomotives and coaches in the PR if we change the gauge,” claimed the minister. To validate his stance, he said the railways all over the world have had the standard gauge but the old system was only running in Pakistan.

PR former minister Khawaja Saad Rafique already termed the track replacement announcement of Sheikh Rashid childish. He said in a tweet that the minister’s statements reflected his poor knowledge about the subject.

“Pakistan cannot afford the gauge replacement adventure at 11,000km long track as it will turn redundant all existing locomotives and coaches,” Kh Saad tweeted on Saturday.

 Sheikh Rashid said he had forwarded suggestion in the recent cabinet meeting that future investment in the PR through CPEC should be made to lay standard gauge tracks. The minister to reduce the PR deficit and sought four months period to revolutionise the department.

The minister said no decision was made to increase the fare at passenger and express trains. He claimed to retrieve occupied land of PR from big fish, adding the poor who lived in Kachi Abadees developed temporarily on utility’s land, however, will not be disturbed. As per vision of prime minister, he said, the new residences will also be constructed for the PR employees.    

He announced to provide internet facilities at all trains and in all classes, and install elevators at main stations to facilities old and disable passengers. He said train link will make operational with Iran and Turkey. He vowed to improve freight sector and invited private partnership in it. He said the PR was ready to provide open platform for advertisement and publicity to all private companies.

The minister put ban on foreign visits of PR officers and end weekly holiday of Saturday. He said the officers voluntarily agreed to enhance their one hour duty timing. He said he will visit Lahore headquarters once in a week and hold meetings with all divisional superintendent to review the weekly progress.