Pakistan Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique has announced up to 57 per cent reduction in fares of different trains at specific sections.

In a press conference here in Lahore on Saturday, the minister announced minimum fare of Rs 20 instead of Rs 35 at all branch lines and said the PR would try to bear any expected increase in electricity or fuel prices.

He said the decision of fare reduction had been taken after an experiment of such reduction in railcars and Jaffer Express trains at Lahore- Rawalpindi sections which produced positive results and the PR had received better revenue and number of passengers.

However, he said the facility of reduction in fare had been provided temporarily for three months and hoped positive improvement due to the decision.

Talking about the Gujranwala train accident, the minister said that driver of the train had been captured and raids were being conducted to arrest the assistant driver who had been declared responsible for the accident in basic inquiry report, however, he added the other aspect of the accident were also under observation and soon would be opened after receiving detailed report.

He also announced to operate Eid special trains on the eve of Eidul Fitr, however, number and destinations would be informed later.

Khawaja Saad told the media that revenue collection had also been improved due to freight operation by increasing the number of trains up to three instead of one.

He appreciated the mechanical department which added more locomotives in the system after repair and now 22 locomotives had been operational.

He vowed the number of freight trains would be five by the end of the present fiscal year as one freight train earned upto Rs one billion to Rs 1.25 billion and it caused the reduction of the PR deficit.

Commenting on the punctuality, the minister admitted the issue of punctuality of trains could not be overcome due to the shortage and poor condition of locomotives as well as shortage of passenger coaches. However, he vowed that punctuality of the trains would be ensured at least 80 percent by the end of the fiscal year 2013-14.

He thanked the Punjab government for depositing Rs 300 million in the account of the Railways from its claim of Rs 3 billion and said that discussion for settlement of other amount was under process.

He also told the media that an amount of Rs 1.570 billion had also been recovered which had been deposited for letter of credit for the purchase of 75 locomotives from a Chinese company as the agreement had been cancelled.

To a question, he said all those elements who remained involved in damaging the Railways would be dealt with an iron hand but just after the posting of a permanent NAB chairman.

He also claimed the PR would be run purely on merit basis and not a single approach would be entertained.

PR General Manager Anjum Pervaiz, PR Additional GM Traffic Javaid Anwar, Inspector General Railways Police Ibne Hussain and other senior officers were also present in the press conference.