Pakistan Railways will provide Wi-Fi and tracking system facility to the passengers as well as to freight trains within a 100 days.
Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, stated that overseas Pakistanis are offering free of cost services for providing wi-fi and tracking facilities for passenger trains.
He stated this while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Railways, which met with Muhammad Asad Ali Khan Junejo in the chair.
Asad Khan Junejo suggested that Pakistan Railways can provide mobile phones to train drivers with software that can help in tracking trains.
The Minister assured the Committee that Pakistan Railways will install tracking system in all trains shortly.
The minister also talked about increasing fares, while justifying the decision by adding that most of the economy class trains would be upgraded with air conditioners, with a little increase in fares by next summer.
He further said Pakistan will ask China to include the Main Line (ML-II) project along with ML-1— a strategically important project, in China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) -during the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China.
“I will accompany PM Khan during his visit to China where along with the finalization of ML-I for implementation, we will ask China to include the up-gradation of ML-II as well in the CPEC framework”, said Railways Minister.
The minister said that important decisions regarding the Railways upgradation plans would be taken in the next 60 days. Currently on average, about 8-10 cargo trains operate on a daily basis, which is going to be increased to 13 by offering incentives to the private sector.
Rashid Ahmed admitted that work on other areas has been done, however the upgradation of railway tracks was neglected. The incumbent government will urge China for bringing ML-II into the CPEC framework.
“We are going to bring the track between Sukkar and Karachi as per the expectations of the people as we did not pay attention on tracks across the country,” the minister added.
He further said that Pakistan Railways was planning to launch a new train ‘Rehman Baba’, which will exclusively cater to low income people in the country. Feasibility study of the new train was under process and it will be an economy class train.
The Minister said that Pakistan Railways was inviting private partners to run the freight trains. After completing 90 days, any private parties can run these trains on public private partnership that will increase the revenue for the organization.
He said that Pakistan Railways is offering free of cost tickets for over 75 year old persons. PR is also offering a 50 percent discount for people over 65 years and 25 percent discount on tickets for disabled persons for its passenger trains.
Managing Director Pakistan Railway Advisory and Consultancy Services (PRACS) Zubair Ghouri briefed the Committee about the working and projects of the PRACS. He said that as many as 400 employees are working with PRACS and it was providing consultancy and advisory services to Pakistan Railways. He said that it was also responsibility of the PRACS to run special cultural trains.
PRACS generated over Rs 706 million income during 2017-18 and projected to increase it to over Rs 861 million by end 2018-19.
Sheikh Rashid said the E-Ticketing project, which was started 12 years ago by Pakistan Railways, is now selling around one million tickets per day.