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Pakistan Railways earnings on the rise, upgrade projects in full swing

Still in Pakistan, Pakistan Railways offers a significant mode of transportation in the farthest corners of the country and brings them closer for business, sightseeing, pilgrimage and education. It is said that Pakistan Railways has been a great integrating force and forms the life line of Pakistan through catering to its needs for large scale movement of people and freight. Pakistan Railways is a single main mode of transport in the public sector, contributing to economic growth and offering national integration. Statistics identified that it comprises total of 474 locomotives for 7,791 km length of the route.

Analysis of economic survey of Pakistan FY2020 showed that during the first eight months of FY2020 (July-February), gross earnings rose by 8.4 percent and amounted to Rs 36,916.85 million as against with Rs 34,066.12 million during the corresponding period last year. During July-February FY2020, the number of carried passengers declined to 39.4 million as compared to 39.9 million during the same period last year, showing a fall of 1.20 percent. Furthermore, statistics showed that passenger traffic (km million), freight carried (tons million), and freight (tons km million) fell by 3.54 percent, 0.56 percent and 0.07 percent, respectively.

Pakistan Railways endeavours to run the trains strictly in accordance to time table. The progressive freight train support organization operated through professional management and competent staff endeavours to offer reliable, competitive and economical service of recognized standards to its customers. Asian Development Bank (ADB) helped Pakistan Railways to prepare Pakistan Railways Strategic Plan (PRSP) which has been accepted through Railway Board. ADB also gave training to PR staff on route optimization bringing efficiency in present operations. PRSP includes suggestions to facilitate PR, attaining its targets of being efficient and profitable. The policy dialogue is still on-going. Presently it has recently submitted a business plan to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, outlining a strategy for turning the railways into a profitable entity. Besides, a shortage of the required funds is affecting the repair work of engines. As per the proposed plan, the Pakistan Railways will need to sign international joint venture contracts to become a profitable entity. Passengers will be offered with secure, comfortable, and affordable travel facilities. It will require the help of other departments to make itself financially stable. It will also need political and financial support and effective monitoring of its governance and the railway’s board.

The entire railway system would be digitalized, and the private sector needs to be engaged in the process. Moreover, Ministry of Railways would restore old system of Karachi Circular Railways (KCR) with a cost of Rs 1.8 billion and around 16,000 passengers would travel on 32 passenger trains daily. The distance from the starting point to the last destination would be covered in only half an hour.

It is said that Pakistan Railways was going to restore historic project of KCR on the orders given by the Supreme Court in which role and cooperation of the Sindh government would be required. Total 44 kilometers KCR track will include 30 km loop and 14 km mainline. The KCR has total 20 stations, out of which 15 are on the loop and five on the mainline, while there are 24 level crossings on the entire track. KCR project would be restored in three phases. In the first phase 14 km from Karachi City to Orangi Station would be revived, in the second phase 7 km from Orangi Station to Gilani Station will be restored while in the third and final phase 9 km from Gilani Station to Drigh Colony track would be totally restored. About the restoration of first phase, the rehabilitation work of the track from Karachi City to Orangi Station was in full swing. So far statistics also showed that 12 km track from Karachi City to Manghopir has been totally restored. Statistics also identified that Rs152.5 million for repair of 9 stations, platforms and 15 level crossings was restored in the first phase while tenders of Rs 50 million for electrical signal and telecommunication have been issued in July of the present financial year. Presently 10 locomotives and 40 coaches for the KCR project had been handed over to Carriage Factory Islamabad for repair and renovation.

It is expected that Pakistan Railways would upgrade the KCR project in the second phase Rs 8.705 billion would require for its rehabilitation work. After the upgradation of KCR, the number of passenger trains would be grown from 32 to 48 and passenger capacity would also be raised from 16,000 to 24,000 passengers while the total journey duration would be reduced from 30 minutes to 19 minutes. In the third and last phase, the official the project will be upgraded to a modern urban mass transit system under public-private partnership.

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