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April 15, 2019

As Pakistan Railways struggles, global rail systems earn billions of dollars


April 15, 2019

LAHORE: Having earned revenues of just Rs40.08 billion, roughly equivalent to US $380 million during 2016-17, the Pakistan Railways is miles behind many railway systems in the world, including the Indian Railways across the border, an in depth-statistical research conducted by the “Jang Group and Geo Television Network” reveals.

Battling the malaise of encroachment on its real estate, Pakistan Railways had managed to retrieve around 133 acres of its land grabbed across the country by the last week of December 2018.

Recently, on April 10, the Senate Standing Committee on Railway Affairs was informed by the Inspector General Railways that the department owned a land of 1,70,976 acres, of which 3,179 acres worth billions of dollars was currently encroached in different parts of the country.

The Senate body was also informed that more than 200,000 people were caught travelling in train without a ticket during last five years.

However, a 2011 survey conducted by the Pakistan Railways had revealed that an area of 5662.67 acres of its land was encroached. This included 3416.102 acres encroached by private persons and another 447.304 acres by various government departments.

Although the 158-year old Pakistan Railways, having over 73,276 employees and owning a track of 4,800 miles (7,791km) across the country, had reduced its losses to around Rs26.5 billion in 2018 as compared to Rs32 billion in 2013 when the previous PML-N government had assumed charge of the country, the Rs40.08 billion revenue figure was dubbed an improvement by the Federal Railways Minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, during the course of his December 30, 2018 press conference.

Sheikh Rasheed had revealed during his Press conference that the Pakistan Railways had spent Rs1.3 billion on up-gradation of more than 585 passenger coaches during the first half of the current fiscal year 2018-19, and is now enjoying services of over 200 locomotives, up from just 55 in 2013.

The Railways Minister had further asserted that the Pakistan Railways had enhanced the availability of operational coaches to almost 1,270 in 2018 from around 950 in 2013 due to increased spending on up-gradation of coaches, which had reached Rs85 billion in 2018 from expenditure of Rs48 billion in 2012-13.

He had mentioned that the financing for the rail network uplift had been enhanced to US$ 8 billion from the earlier allocation of $3.5 billion under the original US $46 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) programme, hence lifting the total volume to the figure of $51.5 billion.

But now that the work on the much-trumpeted China Pakistan Economic Corridor is bound to gain pace, Pakistan Railways perhaps needs to address chronic issues like lack of funding, bad governance, negligence and corruption, though it has increased 1,250 passenger coaches till 2018 from 970 in 2013. Up till now, 790 coaches and 1900 wagons have been rolled out after special repair.

The Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed-led Pakistan Railways top brass has set a revenue target of Rs50 billion for fiscal year 2017-18, which is 30 per cent higher as compared to the preceding fiscal year.

About a month back, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad had said at the Karachi Cantt Railway Station that Pakistan Railways had recorded an increase of Rs3 billion in revenue during the last six months, adding two days later in Lahore that 20 more trains would be added to the fleet of Pakistan Railways within the next six months.

Just for the sake of inspiration and learning, here follows a list of world’s biggest railway operators based on revenues:

Germany’s “Deutsche Bahn” had earned revenues to the tune of US $51.14billion in 2017, making it the world’s biggest railway operator by revenue. It had reported a 5.2 per cent year-on-year revenue growth in 2017 on the back of improved performance of its business units.

While the ridership for Deutsche Bahn” long distance trains grew by 2.3 per cent year-on-year to 142 million, its rail freight transport decreased by 2.3 per cent to 271 million tonnes during 2017.

Based in Berlin, Germany, the “Deutsche Bahn” has a presence in more than 130 countries and a workforce of 310,000. It operates a 33,488km-long rail network with 5,700 train stations and transports seven million passengers a day.

Its business units had transported roughly 80,000 standard containers on the world’s longest railway route between Germany and China for the first time in 2017.

France’s state-owned railway company, the SNCF, had earned revenues to the tune of US $40.12 billion in 2017. Its revenues increased by 4.2 per cent year-on-year in 2017 due to a strong growth in its passenger and freight transport volumes.

The company invested approximately $10.5 billion in the modernisation of its rail network and rolling stock, mainly in France, during the year. It also completed 1,600 improvement projects in 2017.

The French railway company employs 270,000 people in 120 countries and operates more than 30,000km of the railway network, including 2,600km of high-speed lines with a fleet of 15,000 trains. The company serves approximately 14 million customers and 170,000 shippers globally.

The Russian Railways, or the JSC, had earned revenues to the tune of US $39.04 billion in 2017, hence witnessing a 5.6 per cent growth year-on-year in revenue in 2017 as a result of a 9.5 per cent increase in revenues from its freight and infrastructure operations.

The JSC passenger traffic rose by 7.8 per cent to 1.11 billion during the year, while cargo volumes grew by 3.2 per cent to 1.261 billion tonnes.

Russian Railways operates in more than 40 countries across approximately 85,000km of railway lines and transports nearly one billion passengers and two billion tonnes of cargo a year. The workforce of the company is roughly 750,000.

The Indian Railways had earned revenues of $28.8 billion in 2017, or 13.38 per cent up compared to $25.4 billion in 2016 due to growth in revenues in the passenger segment.

It carried 8.26 billion passengers and 1.16 billion tonnes of freight during the year. Headquartered in New Delhi, the state-owned Indian Railways operates a 67,368km-long rail network with a workforce of 1.308 million.

As of March 2017, the Indian Railways’ consisted of 277,987 freight wagons, 70,937 passenger coaches and 11,452 locomotives. it is the world’s eighth-largest employer. Indian Railways had commissioned a record electric traction of 2,367km of train service within 2017 and is currently building a $14.52 billion Ahmadabad to Mumbai high-speed passenger corridor project.

The East Japan Railway Company (JR East) had bagged revenues of $27.76 billion in 2017, posting a growth of 2.4 per cent year-on-year.

The company’s traffic volume amounted to 136,486 million passenger kilometres in 2017. Based in Tokyo, the JR East runs 6,263.1km of conventional lines and 1,194.2km of high-speed rail lines.

The Texas-based BNSF Railways – had posted revenues of $21.38 billion in 2017. Its revenues increased by 8 per cent year-on-year in 2017 with a 5 per cent rise in its business volumes, which totalled 10.277 million.

BNSF is one of the biggest freight transportation companies in North America. It operates a 52,303.6km route covering 28 states in the US and three Canadian provinces and runs a total of 25 intermodal facilities.

The intermodal freight transport involves the transportation of freight in an intermodal container or vehicle, using multiple modes of transportation (e.g., rail, ship, and truck), without any handling of the freight itself when changing modes.

It has an employee base of 41,000 people.

Its $3.3 billion capital investment in 2017 focused on the addition of 32km of double tracks, 250 bridge projects, and development of 418km of under-centralised traffic control.

The Nebraska-based Union Pacific Corporation of United States had eared revenues of $21.24 billion in 2017, reporting a 7 per cent year-on-year revenue growth.

Industrial products had accounted for 21 per cent of the company’s freight revenue, while intermodal and agricultural products accounted for 19 per cent each, followed by chemicals with 18 per cent.

Coal and automotive units contributed 13 per cent and 10 per cent respectively to the company’s revenues.

The Union Pacific Railways operates 8,573 locomotives on a 51,695km network covering 23 American states. The company serves 10,000 customers with a workforce of 41,992.

The company’s capital expenditure during 2017 had totalled $3.1 billion.

The Central Japan Railway Company had reported revenues of US $17.14 billion in 2017, showing a year-on-year revenue growth of 3.7 per cent.

The company had carried 452,000 passengers a day in 2017.

It employed 28,867 people as of March 2018.

The company’s business segments include transport, merchandise and real estate etc.

The West Japan Railway Company (JR-West) had earned revenues of US $14.12 billion in 2017, thereby posting a 4.1 per cent year-on-year revenue growth.

Headquartered in the city of Osaka, this railway system operates 5,008.7km of rail network covering 16 counties and two provinces. The company runs 6,562 vehicles covering 1,200 stations.

The Florida-based Messrs CSX Corporation had recorded revenues of US $11.4 billion or a year-on-year increase of 3 per cent.

Merchandise segment generated 62 per cent of the company’s total revenue, while coal and intermodal businesses accounted for 18 per cent and 16 per cent respectively.

It provides transportation services through its 33,796km rail network in 23 American states.

This company employs a workforce of approximately 24,000.

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