Islamabad, 18 February 2012. A plan to restructure Pakistan Railways is ready and the Planning Commission will soon submit its recommendations to the government for corporatisation of the department.
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Dr Nadeemul Haq informed Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani during a meeting on Friday that the restructuring plan for the railways’ board had been finalised with the World Bank assistance.
The proposed ‘Pakistan Railways Corporation’ would focus on core business of train service, while the non-core business and entities such as railways’ factories, schools, hospitals and marketing of its land would be managed through subsidiary public limited companies which would function under the ministry of railways.
The World Bank has suggested to the government to take steps to turn the railways into a tool to achieve social integration and economic development at the national, provincial and city levels.
“The resuscitation of Pakistan Railways should be viewed as part of the overall story – see the wood and not the trees,” says the World Bank.
The year 2011 was the worst for Pakistan Railways because during that year it carried almost the same number of passengers and even less freight than in 1955.
The ministry of railways gave a detailed presentation to Mr Gilani and it was decided at the meeting that procurement of locomotives would be ensured on a ‘pro-active basis’.
Pakistan Railways has failed to finalise a procurement deal for 150 locomotives as tenders could not be floated on two consecutive dates. It is now preparing to make a third attempt to attract suppliers.
Mr Gilani directed the department to dedicate 50 per cent of the recently repaired locomotives to the freight service.
PR officials informed the premier that an agreement had been reached with the National Logistic Cell under which 30 locomotives would be repaired and financed by the NLC. Half of those locomotives would be available to Pakistan Railways and the rest would be used for transportation of NLC freights.
The meeting was informed that a new service namely Shalimar Express would be launched between Lahore and Karachi on February 25 on the same public-private partnership concept under which the ‘Business Express Train’ is operating.
The prime minister asked the ministry of petroleum and natural resources to double the credit limit for fuel supply to Pakistan Railways to ensure smooth operation of the passenger and freight trains.
He told the ministry of finance to hold talks with the ministry of railways to clear pension commutations and GP fund dues and resolve other employees-related issues without delay.
The prime minister directed the PR authorities to operationalise the service between Kasur, Raiwind, Lahore and Shahdara.