RAWALPINDI: The government is trying to promote rail travel, as it is an affordable, safe and comfortable mode of transportation, said Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Saturday.
Inaugurating a non-stop train, ?Pakistan Express?, between Rawalpindi and Karachi at the Rawalpindi Railway Station, he said the rail links of the country were a source of promoting solidarity among people living in different areas of the country, as it connected them all.
He said that these measures were part of the Pakistan Railways? (PR) efforts to make the department more efficient and rail travel more comfortable. He said that the department was also making arrangements for starting a bullet train.
He said that railways were the backbone of the national economy, adding that it had played an important role in the progress and prosperity of the country.
He said that all the projects prepared by the Ministry of Railways would be approved to further improve the railway services, adding that the salaries of PR employees would also be increased.
He said that the Pakistan Muslim League and its allied parties were carrying out record development work in the country, adding that the number of development schemes completed in the past few years by the government were unprecedented in the country?s history. He said that the economic condition of the country had improved greatly in the past half decade, adding that tremendous development had taken place in all sectors of the economy. He said that continuation of the policies was necessary for maintaining economic momentum.
Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said that the new train service would benefit people with low incomes, as a one-way fare was only Rs 600. He said that a new ?luxury? train service would be inaugurated on December 25. He said that two million people travelled on the PR trains in the last six months, adding that the figure would reach five million in a year.
He said that PR had also started a shuttle train service between Peshawar and Rawalpindi and its fare was Rs 70. He said that past governments had neglected the development of the PR and instead of building a new rail track, it had allowed 1,000 kilometres of track to fall into disrepair.
He said that PR engines and coaches were being repaired and built at the local carriage factories without any foreign assistance. He said that the salaries and other allowances of the employees of department would be increased.
He said that the railroad from Sohawa to Dena was the cause of the unnecessary delay in the Lahore-Rawalpindi trains, adding that if the route could be modified, trains would travel between the two cities in just two and a half hours.
He said that tenders for running a bullet train had been received from two Spanish and Austrian companies. He said that there were 4,000 unmanned railway crossing from Lahore to Karachi. He said 300 of them would be immediately closed to avoid accidents, while the department would hire more staff for working on the rest.
He said that computer ticketing systems had been introduced at all stations and PR had a service to deliver tickets at home on nominal charges.
He said that land belonging to the PR was being auctioned off to generate revenue for the department and to construct hotels to promote tourism in the country.