ISLAMABAD  - Ministry of Railways will spend around Rs 22.8 billion to execute 37 projects for rehabilitation of its infrastructure and reinvigorating services during current fiscal year.

“During the year 2012-13, the priority will be given to the procurement of new locomotives as the Railways is currently facing shortage of around 500 locomotives,” said an official of Pakistan Railways while talking to APP here on Wednesday.

He said an amount of Rs 6.1 billion has been sanctioned as a commercial loan for repair of 96 locomotives. He said Planning Commission has approved three major schemes at a cost of Rs 35 billion to support Railways revival. Letter of Interest (LoI) has been issued for rehabilitation of 27 locomotives, he added. Tenders for procurement of 150 new locomotives are under evaluation. He said around 150 locomotives to be rehabilitated while procurement of 75 locomotives is in pipeline. He further said around 150 coaches would be manufactured during 2012-13. Project for doubling of track between Karachi and Lahore will be completed by December 2012. Two new projects for doubling of track between Lahore-Faisalabad and Lahore-Lalamusa will be launched in 2012-13.

He said a `Project Management Unit’ was also being established in the Ministry that would help execute different projects in a smooth manner.

“Two dry ports will be set up at Prem Nagar and at Shershah Railway Station for which Rs 494 million and Rs 485 million have been allocated respectively,” he said. To a question, he said the available locomotives have average age of 33 years while in rest of the world this is about 20 years. More than 55 percent track is overage, 70 percent of freight wagons are of low-capacity and 86 percent of bridges are more than 100 years old.

 He said that signalling system of PR is mostly obsolete. He said the ministry has planned short-term solution to keep PR functional.