ISLAMABAD - After relentless and appreciable efforts of the present government, the Pakistan Railways (PR) has succeeded to a great extent in winning passengers’ confidence as it has attracted around ten million passengers during the past two years.

The traditional rude attitude of the transporters and passenger-friendly policies of Pakistan Railways have fascinated passengers as after several years a large number of passengers along with families could be witnessed at different railway stations across the country.

Talking to APP, passengers said they now prefer to travel by train because of appreciably low fares as compared to private transport. “I am thankful to the Railways administration which has improved its services in all the trains across the country,” said Sohaib Mansha, a passenger returning to Rawalpindi from his hometown from Karachi.

After many years, he said he had seen well-cleaned trains and efficient staff at the railway station.

The government has envisaged vision 2025 targeting Pakistan Railways sector to enhance its market share from 4 percent to 20 percent.

Secretary Railway Board, Aftab Akbar told APP that the continuous and untiring efforts of Railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and dedication of staff and workers had played a vital role in achieving the targets. He said the minister’s motivation had made the administration and workers more confident.

The authorities concerned have taken, and are taking, a number of steps both at macro and micro level to benefit the organization and public at large. Aftab Akbar said these reformatory steps include making functional the Railway Board, rationalization of the staff, restructuring of administrative hierarchy and upgradation of the post of General Manager Operations.

It is pertinent to mention that e-governance is being introduced in Railways ministry to make working more efficient while infrastructures (track fitness) plan to raise the speed of trains up to 140 K.M per hour has been prepared and being implemented in phases.

High capacity stocks like freight wagons, hopper trucks and boggy oil tank wagons is being procured to enhance line capacity and improve turn round of the trains.

Aftab Akbar said Pakistan Railways was also working on a project to ensure provision of clean drinking water facility to its employees and passengers. Regarding reform in railway police, he said police was being trained on modern lines and were being provided with state-of-the-art equipments. According to official documents available with APP, the government has allocated a sum of Rs. 41 million under Public Sector Development Project (PSDP) for Railways division in the current fiscal year.

Moreover, Rs. 882 million were allocated for Acquisition of Land for Railways Container Yard Station and Railway Line from Sea port up to coastal highway at Gwadar, Rs. 2,795 million were allocated for Mechanization of Track Maintenance while Rs. 1000 million had been earmarked for procurement and manufacture of 75 Nos new D.E locomotives.

“The Ministry of Railways revenue was Rs. 18 billion in 2012-13, Rs. 23 billion in 2013-2014 and now the management expects an income of Rs. 31 billion by the end of current financial year against the target of Rs. 28 billion,” said a ministry official on the condition of anonymity.

He said in 2012-13, Railways earned Rs. 1 billion from freight services but this year it was going to earn Rs. 8 billion under this head.

Upgradation of Mainline-1 (ML1) and construction of dry port and cargo handling facility had been included as Early Harvest Projects (EHP) under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and preparatory work on these projects has been initiated on fast track basis, he added.

The official said the ministry of railways had launched a cargo train service between Pakistan and Iran to promote trade between the two countries, adding Pakistan Railways would complete management work of its land record under modern arrangements with an aim to evaluate exact position of PR land across the country by June 2016.

Meanwhile, a path-breaking project of Islamabad-Murree-Muzaffarabad Rail Link is being initiated to connect scenic Kashmir valley with the Federal Capital and rest of the country.

Pakistan Railways had launched a new Islamabad-Karachi non-stop Greenline train service to provide the passengers economical, comfortable and secure journey, he said, adding Pakistan Railways was considering a proposal to link Peshawar with Jalalabad as well as Chaman (Pakistan) with Spinboldak (Afghanistan) through railway line.

A Lahore-bound passenger Qasim Ali said he was highly impressed by the punctuality of the trains which was a major issue for the passengers.

After more than 10 years, he said, they were travelling by train as timings have been improved and the fare was also considerably less than private transport.