Improved railway need of hour

Islamabad: The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said railways should be improved to enable it to support economic corridor project which is a game changer.

Railways must swing to profit through reforms and private sector driving eight percent of the national economy should be lured to it through incentives, it said.

There are private public and goods transport services and private airlines in the country therefore there is no harm in running private passenger and freight trains in Pakistan, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that the department of railways is nose-diving since long, 39 percent of the budget goes to salaries, 26.7 percent is consumed by pensions and 19.4 percent is utilised to buy fuel. Rest is used for maintenance and repair as well as miscellaneous expenses.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that there were 452 passenger trains playing daily in 1974-75 which have now came down to 90. Similarly, the number of passengers has reduced from four hundred thousand to 1,30,000.

There are only six freight trains now as compare to 179 in 1974-75 while the number of employees per train has jumped from 217 to almost 1000 which has not improved but worsened the working of the railways.

He called for improvement in railway factories at Risalpur and Islamabad and exploring transit opportunities with Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia which will improve the income of the department and help country earn precious foreign exchange.