Pakistan Railways to Introduce Smart Railway Cars on Several Routes

The Senate Standing Committee on Pakistan Railways (PR) was informed about introducing four smart railway cars on different routes through a public-private partnership.

Secretary Railways, Syed Mazhar Ali Shah, shared that Pakistan Railways plans to launch these smart cars for routes between Lahore-Islamabad, Lahore-Faisalabad, Lahore-Multan, and Karachi-Hyderabad. The project will cost around $45 million. He mentioned that private partners will help maintain the tracks by contributing a portion of the profits.

Dost Ali Jessar, Kamil Ali Agha, Senator Saifullah Sarwar Khan Nyazee, and other high-ranking officials attended the meeting, which was presided over by Senator Jam Saifullah Khan.

Shah briefed the committee on the operations and performance of the ministry, highlighting that railways are 62% safer and 72% more environmentally friendly than road transport. He emphasized that railways can help reduce the country’s oil import bill and mentioned that the first transport policy was only formulated in 2018.

Despite financial constraints, Pakistan Railways aims to increase its market share from 8% to 30%. Currently, 95% of the railway budget is spent on pensions, pay, and fuel, leaving only 5% for maintenance. For the financial year 2024-25, railway pension liabilities are expected to be around Rs. 62 billion.

The secretary noted efforts to minimise operational costs and requested that railway pensioners be included in the national account.

Regarding the ML-1 project, Shah explained that ECNEC has approved the project at a cost of around $6.68 billion. The first phase will upgrade the track from Karachi to Multan, followed by the track from Multan to Peshawar. The committee decided to hold a special session on the ML-1 project and to visit the Islamabad and Lahore railway workshops to assess their performance.

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