ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Railways (PR) has completed a feasibility report of the Chaman-Qandahar railway track and it has now requested the World Bank to assist in the feasibility of the Peshawar-Jalalabad route.
Director Planning Ministry of Railways Aftab Akbar told APP that the PRís top priority is rehabilitation, upgradation of infrastructure and lying of new tracks with an aim to be a hub of economic activities for regional countries.
He said that under the government’s vision, Pakistan Railways has already completed dualisation of track from Karachi to Lodhran and work is under progress from Lodhran to Lahore.
He said the government, realising the importance of the country’s geo-strategic importance to regional countries that include Afghanistan, China and Central Asian States, has directed PR to complete dualisation of track from Karachi to Lahore and from Lahore to Peshawar.
Similarly, he said that China is working on feasibility of Hawalian to Khunjrab, adding that the feasibility report of the 900-km track from Gawadar to Mastung has already been completed.
He said the government has also introduced “Open Access Policy” under which private companies and chambers can run their own freight service by using infrastructure of the Pakistan Railways.
Akbar said that under public-private partnership, the PR has embarked on the construction of dry ports in industrial cities to facilitate transport of raw material and finished goods.
Under this programme, dry ports will be constructed at Sheikhapura and Azakhel. About the upgradation of rolling stock, he said a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been singed with China for import of 202 coaches and 75 engines.
He said out 500 engines, 300 are defective and there is dire need to upgrade the rolling stock. Besides, Pakistan Railways has also launched open tender for purchase of 150 engines from western countries.
Replying to a question, he said Pakistan Railways is annually spending around Rs3 billion on pensioners and Rs4 billion on its police employees which are major contributing factors to the overall deficit of the organisation.