The upgrade of Pakistan’s railway tracks is being done on a war footing, for which Rs. 23 billion has been requested to repair the 473 km long dangerous railway track.
This was announced by the federal Minister for Railways, Azam Khan Swati, during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Railways for a briefing on the operations and performance of the Ministry of Railways and the recent train accident at Ghotki.
The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Muhammad Qasim at the Old PIPS Hall in the Parliament Lodges, Islamabad.
The meeting began with the offering of prayers for the victims of the tragic incident of Ghotki. The Chairman Committee called for a briefing on the Ghotki accident, which was given by the officials who stated that Millat Express derailed near Reti. Twelve of its coaches were derailed, five of which capsized near the down track, thus blocking the passage of the down line.
Meanwhile, Sir Syed Express bound for Karachi hit the derailed coaches of Millat Express, causing three of its own coaches to become derailed, and the passage of the up and down track was blocked as a result.
The officials said that as per the latest information provided by the Chief Medical Officer Railways, 63 passengers died and 106 were injured in the accident.
One of the officials apprised the committee that the defect was in the rolling stock. He said that a detailed inquiry into the matter has been ordered to ascertain the exact cause of the accident.
The Minister for Railways said that railways have reached this position due to bad policies, and recruitment has been given priority over improving operations. He told the committee that Rs. 80 million had not been released to improve the condition of railway wagons, which had caused a loss of Rs. 1.09 billion from these 374 railway wagons.
Minister Swati said that repair shops are not capable of fixing coaches. If they are repaired at railway workshops, they will be derailed. Rs. 32 billion has been spent on railway signals but the performance is zero.
“I have taken this matter to Chairman Nab, Railway freight revenue will increase sharply,” he said.
Minister Swati said that the railway track from Sukkur to Khanpur is being upgraded. An amount of Rs. 23 billion has been demanded from the Prime Minister (PM) for 473 tracks, and he has been directed to make PC-1.
The officials apprised the committee that they are also trying to run the Islamabad-Istanbul-Tehran Freight.
During the meeting, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed asked what action has taken on the repeated letters about the railway accidents by the Divisional Superintendent Sukkur.
Minister Swati said that the mainline of the Sukkur division was not in good condition but the Ghotki accident had occurred where the track was in excellent condition.
The railway line from Tando Adam to Khanpur will also be upgraded. After the completion of the project, railway traffic will be able to pass over it at a speed of 140 kmh.
The minister said that the revenue of railway freight will increase rapidly.
A detailed briefing on the overall working and performance of the ministry was also given by the secretary and other senior officials of the railways. The officials said initiatives are being taken for the safety, outsourcing, digitalization, and governance of railways.