LAHORE – The Four Brothers International, the operator of the newly-started business train, has announced a budget class for low income passengers in Business Express train by introducing the less one-way fare of Rs 3,500 besides Rs 5,000 for executive class with full facilities from Lahore to Karachi, as utilization of bogies has remained very low since the start of the service.

This was stated by advisor to the Four Brothers and chairman of the Pakistan Industrial and Traders Associations Front Sohail Lashari while talking to The Nation here on Tuesday.

He said the management took the decision of reducing fare with a view to attract the passengers, as presently the only 150 people on average are travelling out of 486 capacity.

He expressed his hope that the duration of travel from Karachi to Lahore will further be reduced to 16 hours from current timing of 18 hours, as the double track is going to complete at the end of the year.

He said that the business train is a landmark of public-private partnership in the history of Pakistan Railways.

This deluxe train service was equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, compatible with modern-day demands of the businessmen travelling between Lahore and Karachi, he said, adding the train would set new standards for the public sector to improve its levels of performance on sustainable basis.

“This is the first train to be run in the Public-Private Partnership mode, and shall not only introduce the private business to passenger operations on the rails for the very first time but also provide Pakistan Railways with an insight into the dynamics of the private sector.”

 He said that he was confident that this partnership will infuse a new spirit in providing efficient services to passengers and will be instrumental in reviving the Pakistan Railways.

It is the initiative of M/s Four Brothers International (Private) Ltd., who has pledged to invest a minimum of Rs225 millions for commercial management and passenger facilitation of the Business Express.

Lashari said that the initiative will provide impetus to induct corporate culture in other sectors of the economy.

This break-through, we hope, will lead to a meaningful interaction between the private sector and the government for future cooperation in other domains of railway activities, especially the freight sector and perhaps also manufacturing of railway machinery, he added.

“It will provide the private sector with a unique opportunity to avail the untapped capacity on the railway network by importing locomotives, freight wagons and moving freight across the country. This will relieve pressure on the main highways and also improve the efficient transportation of goods in the country.”

He said that Pakistan Railways is currently facing in terms of acute shortage of locomotives, depleting rolling stock and slow pace of rehabilitation and up-gradation of railway infrastructure.

Replying to a question, the PIAF chairman urged the government to evolve a mechanism to privatize all the public sector enterprises that are generating a loss of billions of rupees annually.

Sohail Lashari said that corruption and mismanagement have destroyed almost the public sector enterprises that were once the shining stars and pride of the nation. He said that their privatization would not only help the government in getting rid of huge losses but would also strengthen the government’s revenue position.

The PIAF Chairman said that the Pakistan Engineering Company (PECO) that was not only providing jobs to the thousands of Pakistanis and used to manufacture world class products has now completely destroyed and is presenting a look of junkyard while the others were on their way to destruction.

He said that according to recent report of Transparency International corruption is mother of all ills and pushing the economy towards collapse. He said that National Shipping Corporation, Pakistan Steel Mills, Pakistan Railways and other Public Sector Enterprises were profitable but today huge burden on the national exchequer.

He said that report has also highlighted horrible corruption of Rs.500 billion in Federal Board of Revenue. He said that in the presence of such a huge menace of corruption how could country get prosperity?

Lashari suggested to the government to constitute a board of selfless and patriot businessmen to run the affairs these enterprises as the conventional methods to deal with these institutions through bureaucracy would not be doing any service to the government.  

He said that by privatizing the loss earning Public Sector Enterprises government would have much funds for expending on the education and health sector. 

    –SALMAN ABDUHU