Pakistan Railways earned revenue of Rs. 28.263 billion during the first half of the current fiscal year (July-December) compared to the expenditure of Rs. 52.990 billion, according to official documents seen by ProPakistani.
The Ministry documents revealed that Pakistan Railways earned revenue of Rs. 28.263 billion from 01-07-2022 to 31-12-2022 from its operation despite the flood. The expenditure in the same period was Rs. 52.990 billion.
Out of the total expenditure, 35 percent is related to pensions and 33 percent to salaries. In the same period, July-December, 2022, Railways received a subsidy of Rs. 21.750 billion as a Grant in Aid from the Federal Government. The net deficit for the period of July-December was Rs. 2.977 billion, the documents noted.
There have been decades of neglect when it comes to investment in railway infrastructure and rolling stock. This neglect has adversely impacted the financial needs of Pakistan Railways.
The first half of the current financial year 2022-23 brought more bad news for PR as the unprecedented floods due to Climate Change played havoc with the already dilapidated infrastructure. It not only resulted in revenue loss for PR as train operations remained suspended for more than 35 days, but it also put a further burden on PR in terms of restoration of Railway traffic from its own meager resources. This has adversely affected the entire financial system of PR and in turn, affected the employees and pensioners of PR due to delayed salaries and pensions.
Pakistan Railways is trying its level best to turn itself into a profitable organization despite financial constraints. It has developed a two-pronged action plan.
- Concentration on core activities.
- Emphasis on revenue generation through non-core activities.
Concentration on Core Activities
Pakistan Railways has prepared a business plan in January 2023 to increase its revenue and reduce expenditure through improved governance.
Recent initiatives towards digitization in form of (ERP) Enterprise Resource Planning and (RABTA) Railway Automated Booking and Travel Assistance also aim to increase efficiency and reduced the revenue expenditure gap.
Pakistan Railways has restarted its premium train service Green Line from 27-1-2023. This train consists of new Chinese coaches imported recently. It is equipped with infotainment services like LEDs, WiFi, and public address systems.
High-quality meals are provided on a complimentary basis to the passengers. PR intends to upgrade facilities on all its trains. Pakistan Railways is importing 230 passenger coaches from China. Out of these 46 coaches have arrived from China while the rest of the coaches will be assembled in Pakistan through the Transfer of Technology.
These coaches have the latest facilities and are designed to run at the speed of 160 km. Pakistan Railways has also imported 70 new High capacity Wagons to enhance the freight capacity these have reached Pakistan. The rest 750 wagons will be assembled in Pakistani Factories under the Transfer of Technology agreement with China.
Emphasis on Revenue Generation Through Non-Core Activities
Pakistan Railways recently presented a business plan to the Supreme Court of Pakistan and successfully pleaded before the Court to allow PR to utilize its land for the generation of economic activities and thereby ensuring revenue for itself.
A land business plan has been developed so that the revenue/expenditure gap can be minimized by leasing/licensing Railway land. It will also help in decreasing reliance on public funds i.e. annual budget can be minimized through land leasing/licensing of Pakistan Railway lands.
There are some other avenues that are also being explored to improve the revenue potential of the department. These include the Business potential through the laying of Optical Fiber cables along the railway tracks and branding of Trains and Stations.