LAHORE - The Pakistan Railways has enhanced the availability of operational coaches to almost 1,270 in 2018 from around 950 in 2013 due to increased spending on up-gradation of coaches, which has reached Rs85 billion in 2018 from expenditure of Rs48 billion in 2012-13.

Officials said that the PR has also reduced its losses to around Rs 26.5 billion in 2018 as compared to Rs.32 billion loss in 2013 when the last government of the PML-N took over, also having improvement in its revenue to Rs40 billion, including Rs.1.3 billion expenditure spent on up-gradation of more than 585 passenger coaches in the first half of the current fiscal year 2018-19.

The Railways minister of the incumbent government of the PTI Sheikh Rashid Ahmed claimed that railways have earned Rs 1.1 billion more revenue in the freight sector during Sept-Oct, compared with the same period of the previous year. He said that the department would earn a revenue of Rs 10 billion due to untiring efforts of its officers and employees.

Officials said that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor has brightened the hope for a better and modernized railway infrastructure, which has been causing huge losses to the economy for a long time mainly due to lack of funding, bad governance, negligence and corruption. The financing for the rail network uplift has been enhanced to 8 billion dollars from the earlier allocation of 3.5 billion dollars under the original 46 billion dollars CPEC program, lifting the total volume to the figure of 51.5 billion dollars.

According to the Railways documents, its revenue was Rs 18 billion almost five years back, which was increased to Rs23 billion in 2013-14, improving to Rs 32 billion in 2014-15, then Rs 36 billion in 2015-16, Rs 40 billion in 2016-17 and around Rs50 billion in 2018.

The sources said that Rs. 50 billion revenue target was set for fiscal year 2017-18 which is 30 per cent higher as compared to the preceding fiscal year.

The increase in Railways revenue is due to improvement in the number of locomotives, introduction of new freight and passenger trains and trains regularity and punctuality.

Sources said that before 2013 even passenger wagons were not being repaired as per requirement due to less allocation of funds but the position substantially improved through allocation of additional funds for refurbishment of coaches.

In 2013, Pakistan Railways was running only 55 locomotives but today after almost five years the Railways has over 200 locomotives.

In the past five and a half years, the locomotive strength for freight operation has reached 85 compared to eight in 2013.

The PR has increased 1250 passenger coaches till 2018 from 970 in 2013. Up till now, 790 coaches and 1900 wagons have been rolled out after special repair. In addition, the quality of repairs and periodical overhauling of coaches have also been substantially upgraded.

For the first time 55 new freight specific locomotives of 4500 HP have been added to the existing fleet. The newly inducted locomotives improved the share of freight earnings.

The number of passengers has improved significantly as over 10 million people travelled through the Railways network in the past couple of years.

Another positive sign is that about 10 million passengers who had left travelling through Railways have again regaining confidence in this transport system.

The Pakistan Railways has become the country’s largest revenue earning institution through E-commerce by achieving the target of selling Rs 10 million tickets through internet in a day.

The Railways is now providing facility of online booking at its website which was not available before 2013, as 1.35 million passengers purchased Rs 1.80 billion worth tickets through online service.

Officials said that service of trains and staff is also improving after long time.

Trains now almost reach their destinations on time as compared to 12 hours late of five years ago. Five years ago, it was routine that trains were reported to be without locomotives, coaches without electricity and without fuel to run.

The transportation capacity of Railways has been increased by employing higher speed and higher payload trains. Focus has shifted towards freight sector which is a profitable venture, as 55 per cent revenue has been generated from passenger and 31 percent from freight against 80 per cent from passenger and only 11 percent from freight in 2013.

Officials said that terminal facilities have also been improved by introducing modern loading and unloading facilities.

Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has recently claimed that Railways had earned a record income of Rs 453.40 million during the first week of December.

The minister said it had been decided to open pharmacies and small tuck shops at big railway stations of the country.

He said the railways wanted to lease 1000 sites for establishment of petrol pumps. He said an Information Technology (IT) group was being established at railway division level on the direction of the prime minister.

The minister said a rescue rail car between Lahore and Rawalpindi could conditionally be operated in case of expected motorway blockage due to fog during the winter season.