The deficit of Pakistan Railways stood at Rs. 35.3 billion during the first seven months (April-October) of the incumbent government’s tenure.
According to documents available with ProPakistani, during the period under review Railways revenue stood at Rs. 33.76 billion against the expenditure of Rs 69.08 billion.
The budget deficit is always covered through financial assistance provided by the federal government in the shape of grant aid. The federal government has provided Rs. 47 billion during 2021-22 and Rs.45 billion during 2022-23 for this purpose. One major reason for the high deficit is the suspension of trains’ operation for a period of 36 days during August due to floods.
The deficit of Pakistan Railways started in 1974 and since then it has regularly sought help from the federal government to fill the resources gap.
The expenditure on regular salaries of approximately 64,000 employees and monthly pension to approximately 125,000 pensioners is more than Rs.75 billion per year.
In addition to expenditure on salaries, pension, high-speed diesel (HSD), and utilities, the repair and maintenance of locomotives, passenger carriages, wagons, and service & residential buildings is also carried out of the available resources.
Steps to improve Railways’ finances
The government has taken the following to improve the financial condition of Pakistan Railways:
Introduction of RAABTA an initiative towards enhanced customer facilitation. RAABTA platform lets customers plan the trip, check train status, choose a seat, purchase a seat, order car rental, meals and refreshments, and book hotels.
Pakistan Railways is trying its utmost to improve the punctuality of trains. Every train is being monitored and every detention of the train is reviewed and rectified.
To facilitate passengers, a mobile application ― Pak Rail Live has been launched for real-time tracking of trains. Due to close monitoring of trains at the divisional, headquarters, and ministry levels, the punctuality of trains has improved from 63 percent to 80 percent.
Pakistan Railways resumed Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul Cargo Train on 21-12-2021 after 9 years. This project is will maximize economic efficiency through regional connectivity.
High-capacity/high-speed hopper trucks have been inducted in the fleet for swift movement and unloading of coal and new high-capacity high-speed coaches and wagons are being procured.
E-Ticketing through mobile apps and credit cards has been introduced to facilitate passengers at the doorstep and to attract more passengers.
A policy for the transfer of technology is being pursued in collaboration with the People’s Republic of China for the indigenization of Railway Rolling Stock in Pakistan Railways facilities.