Pakistan Railways (PR) has suffered Rs. 28.62 billion in losses during the first eight months of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government. Other than that, 6 of the 10 newly launched trains are also incurring losses.
This was revealed by Railways officials while briefing the National Assembly Standing on Railways where Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed indicated that fares would be increased after Eid to cover for these losses.
The committee met with Muhammad Mueen Wattoo in the chair to discuss the fiscal situation of PR, targets and deficit; benefit-cost ratio of newly launched passenger trains and methodology of feasibility studies for launching new trains.
While presenting the eight month report, which exposed the tall claims of Railways Minister, the committee was informed that Railways generated Rs. 43 billion during the first eight months against an expenditure of Rs. 72 billion.
Loss Making Trains
Saad Rafique said that by reviewing the new trains it was discovered that all 10 of the newly launched trains are suffering losses. The Railway Minister had said that of the 10 new launched trains only two are facing losses including Dabhai G and Rohi.
However Railways officials, while sharing the benefit-cost ratio of newly launched passenger trains, revealed that 6 of these trains are earning a loss including Dhabai G, Shah Latif Express, Mohenjodaro Express, Rohi Passenger, Thal Mianwali Express, Faisalabad non stop and Rawalpindi Express.
The Director General Technical briefed the committee about the fiscal situation of the Pakistan Railways for the first six months of the current government.
Pakistan Railways earned a revenue of Rs. 25,035.711 million (2018-19) mainly from passenger trains in comparison to Rs. 23,098.618 million (2017-18) registering a rise of Rs.1,937.093 million.
Despite an increase in the expenditures on account of salaries (Rs. 1.207 billion), pensions (Rs. 0.468 billion) and fuel (Rs.2.729 billion) the deficit of Pakistan Railways has overall decreased by Rs. 0.059 billion (0.24%).
Ticket Prices to Increase Soon
Railways Minister informed the committee that oil prices have increased in the international market, further increasing tthe financial burden on Pakistan Railways, however, the railways’ fare has not been increased. To meet these expenditures, the fares for AC class are likely to be increased after Eid.
The private sector has also shown an interest in acquiring passenger trains. The passenger trains’ business is profitable while PR is facing problems in the freight business.
Existing railways’ stock has been utilized for these trains. New passenger trains have been introduced on such sections as per demand in order to protect the assets of Railways and facilitate the public by connecting various regions/provinces utilizing existing infrastructure, rolling stock, crew and employees.
Tussle Between The Ministers
Sheikh Rasheed and Khawaja Saad Rafique, the former minister, also talked face-to-face and heated words were exchanged between the two. “We launched 26 new trains and saved 1.7 million litres of fuel,” remarked Rasheed. Rafique responded that they launched new trains after coming into power. “Please tell us about the feasibility of it all.”
He then went ahead to criticise the decision to start The Dhabeji Express, which took people from Karachi to Dhabeji. “Officers knew that Dhabeji Express would fail,” he said. “Only 22 people were using it. They shouldn’t have started it in the first place,” he added.
Later speaking to the media, Railways Minister asked the former president to look towards Larkana saying that he has turned the province, where his party is in power, into “Aid-istan.”