PESHAWAR: With the launching of Rehman Baba Express, the railroad travel duration between Peshawar and Karachi is expected to reduce by 7-9 hours. The Pakistan Railways has planned to launch the new train services on December 23 between Peshawar and Karachi, an official said.
The launch of the new train for economy class passengers is part of the first 100-day plan of Pakistan Railways. Under the plan, the Pakistan Railways was supposed to launch 10 new passenger and two freight trains services to revive and reduce the losses of railways.
Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad during his recent visit to Peshawar had announced the start of the new train named after great mystic poet Abdul Rehman Baba. The 10 coaches' train would be the fifth passenger train service to run between Peshawar and Karachi and Quetta.
Presently, four trains including the Jaffar, Awam Express, Khushal Khan and Khyber Mail are functional. The Jaffar Express plies between Peshawar and Quetta (Balochistan) while the remaining three travel between Peshawar and Karachi.
The new train would carry passengers from Peshawar (Cantonment) Railway Station and reach Karachi by passing through Wazirabad, Faisalabad and Multan in Punjab province. The train would be the fastest and will reach Karachi in 26 hours, which would reduce the travel time by 7-9 hours. The Awam, Khushal and Khyber Mail train services take 33-35 hours to reach Karachi from Peshawar.
The passengers would also be provided concession in the tickets. The ticket for Rehman Baba train was fixed at Rs1,350, however, the railways has announced a special discount of 50 percent in the tickets for the maiden train service and fixed it at Rs675. The fare for the economy class for Khushal, Awam and Khyber Mail has been set at to Rs1,702.
Spokesperson for Pakistan Railways Quratul Ain said that nine new train services including Faisalabad-Multan, Sindh, Shah Abdul Latif, Mohenjo Daro, Margala, Mianwali, Faisalabad, Rohi and Dhabeji Expresses have been launched under the 100-day plan.
She said the 10th train service Rehman Baba was the last passenger train to be launched under the plan. She said that two new freight services were also to be launched during this period. The official said that Rehman Baba train was a low-cost service to facilitate ordinary people. She said the provision of Wifi, tracking services in all the seven divisional offices of Pakistan Railways would be made by December 31.
Quratul Ain said the Railways was arranging separate toilets for disabled passengers in trains and ramps for wheelchairs to be installed. The spokesperson said that the two freight train services would be launched on December 25 and first week of January next. She said that a new double track would be laid for M-1 from Karachi to Peshawar, which would help increase the train speed from currently 120kph to 160kph.
The official said the Railways was also looking for a public-private partnership for its hospitals, schools and colleges.
Quratul Ain said the petroleum consumption had been reduced by putting an end to non-productive movement of locomotors to reduce the gas bill.
She said that 8,000 new employees would be recruited to improve the services, adding the Railways earned an additional profit of Rs1 billion during the past two months due to the steps taken by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government.
She said Pakistan Railways focused on freight trains as it was the only way to increase income and reduce losses. Experts had mix reactions to the launching of new passenger train services, saying that launching a new train and improvement of services in the existing ones were two different things.
They said that if the services at the trains were not improved then launching of new trains would make no difference in reviving and reducing losses of the Railways. The experts were of the opinion that the Railways should reduce the fares of economy and business classes, improve the tracks to increase the speed, provide food and beverages at affordable prices to passengers in trains, replace the outdated railcars and ensure other related facilities like washrooms and drinking water to improve the image of Railways to revive this mode of travel.
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