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Pakistan Railways poised to focus on its role in future regional trade

Pakistan Railways poised to focus on its role in future regional trade

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Railways is currently developing focus on its activities while considering itself at regional scale as trade corridors with Afghanistan and Iran are being improved and work on Pak-China Trade Corridor has been intensified to make it profitable entity, said Railways Director General Operations Syed Mazhar Ali Shah.

“Efforts are being made to resume commercial operations of Pakistan Railways to enhance its revenue and make it commercially viable,” said Mazhar, while addressing the International Multi-Modal Transportation and logistics moot INTERTRANS 2014 “Developing Integrated Transport Network for Economic and Regional Prosperity”, organised by Pegasus Consultancy.

DG Operations Mazhar Ali Shah said that though Pakistan Railways facing worst ever financial crisis has shown better results during the last seven months by decreasing its operational losses. The government has approved a bailout package worth Rs 25.7 billion for restructuring Pakistan Railways, whereas it has earned Rs 3.43 billion more than the previous year with an income of Rs 12.87 billion.

He added that for the first time benchmark has been introduced to improve the internal performance of the Railways. The railways condition could not be improved until and unless freight trains numbers have been increased. That was the reason why further extension of passenger trains was curtailed. Previously, the number of freight trains was reduced from 16 to one. However, it has increased up to 4 by now.

Mazhar further said that Pakistan Railways was confronted to many internal as well as external challenges; however, by now the dimensions have been identified to play active role in the economic growth of the country.

Managing Director Pegasus Consultancy Aamer Khanzada said that the incumbent government is committed to the growth and development of transportation and logistics industry as well as facilitates industry stakeholders in their business endeavours.

“Positive steps have been taken by the government for uplifting this transport sector, which would pave the way for signing a co-operation agreement with China in the coming months on the projects to enhance transportation and trade”, Khanzada said, adding that such projects include construction of an airport at Gwadar and up gradation of roads and railways, which will enhance economic integration and regional connectivity between South Asia and East Asia. In addition, a cargo train between Turkey and Pakistan is going to start soon, he added.

Captain Mushtaq Ali, Chairman of All Pakistan Shipping Association (APSA), said that high-valued conference like INTERTRANS 2014 has opened up many gateways in Pakistan to flourish transport and shipping trade and by virtue of improved supply chain; transportation and communications would play a vital role in Pakistan’s economic growth.

Other speakers agreed to bring up the world class measures in communications and transportation in the country to become compatible with the rest of the world. Executive Secretary National Trade and Transport Facilitation Committee Javaid Mansoor and General Manager Planning National Highway Authority Arbab Ali Dhakan stressed the need for early reforms at the ports to improve their international ranking.