ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Railways plans to connect Gwadar deepwater Port with Jacobabad via central Balochistan to link it up with the rail system of Pakistan.
This was disclosed by the Federal Minister for Railways, Khawaja Saad Rafiq, while brief a select gather of senior journalists at the PID here today.
He said that the Federal Government is expected to make budget allocation in the next fiscal year buying land from private people to lay the railway track from Jacobabad to Gwadar Port via Khuzdar and Basima.
The Railways Minister also disclosed that the Pakistan Railways had already acquired two piece of land comprising of 200 acres and 250 acres for building the marshalling Yard for Gwadar Port and developing the main railway station of Gwadar.
When asked about developing and using Quetta-Zahedan Railway line and upgrading it to an international standard, Saad Rafiq told the questioner that it needs a billion US dollars for which the Government of Pakistan seeking international help and finances.
It may be mentioned here that the Iranian Government, with the help and finances from India, is connecting Chah Bahar Port with Zahedan using a parallel railway track for the benefit of the landlocked countries of Central Asia, including Afghanistan.
He also disclosed that the Pakistan Railways is planning to connect Peshawar with Quetta via Zhob to facilitate the people to use this shortest route. He proposed Quetta-Zhob-D.I. Khan to connect with Peshawar.
He was of the opinion to use the parallel railway track of Main Line Two—from Attock to Sibi—to boost the railway traffic in the country. The route is called as Indus Highway on which the Railways can operate fast train.
The Minister said that the Railway traffic is 70 per cent on Main line one connecting Peshawar with Karachi in terms of Freight and passenger train.
Saad Rafiq told the newsmen the Pakistan Railways is improving the infrastructure between Jacobabad and Quetta. He said it is a priority project improving the rail service in Balochistan.
In terms of revenue, he said the earnings of Pakistan Railways had increased manifold during the past four years saying the Pakistan Railway was earning only Rs 18 billion in 2013. Now its revenue had jumped to Rs 40 billion. It will further increase to Rs 50 billion in the next year, he added.
He told the newsmen that Pakistan Railways is operating 106 passenger trains and 52 goods trains at the movement making a big improvement in rail service to the country and its people. In the past, there were only eight freight trains operated till 2013, he added.
At the time of his induction as Railways Minister, only 160 locomotives were in operation. Now there are 466 locomotives are in operation, he added. About 110 Chinese locomotives purchased during the days of Lt-Gen ® Javed as Railways Minister were sent to junk yard.
He said he had bought US locomotives instead of Chinese keeping in view the past experience. New locomotives will be used for passenger and freight trains.
Talking about the oil reserves, he said there was fuel reserve of one day in the past and now it had been increased to reserves enough for 16 days keeping an eye on prices of oil in the international market ensuring maximum saving in using oil through purchases.
Mr. Saad Rafiq said that the Pakistan Railways is operating freight trains, carrying coal and can meet the requirement of all the power plants being operated on coal
He is more than five trains are being operated to ensure supply of coal to the power plants. The Railways had developed the capacity to meet additional demand for coal for power plants at Jamshoro also. It is already meeting the demand of all the coal power projects in the Punjab. He said that Railways is operating three oil trains and earning a profit of Rs 900 million a year.
Referring to the punctuality of the trains, he said it is now 75 per cent and now the trains are not late. He said that Pakistan Railways is carrying more than 20 million passengers in a year.
He said that the Pakistan Railways had fairly reduced the railway fare making it competitive to the road transport. He claimed that the Pakistan Railways is the cheapest mode of transport in the country. He said that Public/Private partnership is working well and now there no dispute between the private partners with the Pakistan railways. There are no defaulters. The parties are making payment in time.
Referring to Railway stations saying there are 550 Stations in the country and 11 of them had been upgraded to meet the needs of modern time.
He said that the quality of food served in the passenger trains had been improved considerably as he personally supervised it that the passengers should get pure and quality food on the trains. Most of the coaches were improved for better passenger service. Food at Railway stalls are also being improved, he added.
He hoped that Pakistan Railways will be the best in the entire region if the development and improvement is service is continued for the next 15 years.