LAHORE - The Railways has announced up to 57 per cent reduction in fares of different trains at specific sections. But this cut is for the air-conditioned class passengers while the economy class would continue to pay the old charges.

In a press conference at Railways headquarter here on Saturday, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique announced minimum fare of Rs20, instead of Rs35, at all branch lines. He held the Railways would try to bear any future increase in electricity or fuel expenses.

He said this fare decrease is initially for three months but the facility would continue if it resulted in enhanced revenue generation. “We are hopeful that reduction will help attract more passengers in trains,” the minister added.

“We took this decision after finding good results of such reduction of fares for railcars and Jaffer Express at Lahore- Rawalpindi section,” he said, adding the reduction attracted more passengers at the said train and Railways generated more revenue.

To a question, Saad told the media that the driver of the train that derailed at Gujranwala Station had been arrested and raids were being conducted to arrest the assistant driver, who had been held responsible for the accident in the initial inquiry report. He said that other aspects of the accident were also being investigated and they would be made public soon after the detailed report is prepared.

The minister said the Railways would be run purely on merit basis and not even a single approach for any appointment would be entertained. To a question, he said all those elements who remained involved in damaging the Railways would be dealt with an iron hand after the posting of a permanent NAB chairman.

He held that revenue generation of the Railways had been increased due to induction of some trains in freight section. He vowed the number of freight trains would be increased to five by the end of the present fiscal year as one freight train earned up to Rs1 billion to Rs1.25 billion and it helped reduce the PR deficit.

Commenting on the late arrivals and departures of the trains, the minister said the issue of punctuality of trains could not be overcome due to the shortage and poor condition of locomotives as well as shortage of passenger coaches. However, he vowed that at least 80 percent punctuality of the trains would be ensured by the end of the fiscal year 2013-14 He informed that Railways mechanical department had added 22 engines in the railways fleet after their rehabilitation..

The minister vowed that He said that Punjab government had deposited Rs300 million in the account of the Railways and discussion for settlement of other amount was under process.

He said that after cancellation of the agreement, a Chinese company had returned Rs1.57 billion that had been deposited as letter of credit for the purchase of 75 locomotives.

Saad said Railways would run special trains on Eid. PR General Manager Anjum Pervaiz, Additional GM Traffic Javaid Anwar, Inspector General Police (Railways) Ibne Hussain and other senior officers were also present at the press conference.