KARACHI: Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF) on Wednesday said an efficient railway will reduce cost of doing business, increase competitiveness of businesses and cut oil import bill by almost 1.5 billion dollars.
Railway uses one-third of diesel for delivering per tonne of freight as compared to trucks which can substantially reduce national fuel consumption, said PBIF President and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain.
Pakistan Railways is said to be reeling under Rs74 billion liabilities with its assets shrinking at a fast pace. In 1986, country had 8800 km of tracks which are now less than 5000 km.
Similarly, it used to carry 11 million tonnes of freight and provide travelling facility to 110 million people by then but now the number of passengers has dwindled to 47 million while the freight it carries has come down to 1.6 million tonnes, he said.
Hussain said that railway is not improving at the required pace despite 80,000 employees; it has 950 locomotives in 80s which are now 500 with only 100 plying. The number of passenger coaches is down from 2370 to 1434 while freight wagons are down from 600,000 to 76300.
He said that Pakistan Railways recently claimed to earn 25 billion rupees of which seven billion were deposited in national kitty but the auditor general report indicated loss of 32.5 billion.
Pakistan Railways is a national asset which should not be sold but improved, adding that the Federal Railway Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique is doing best to revive the institution which has improved services as well as confidence of masses but a lot needs to be done.