80 % work on innovative e-ticketing system completed to facilitate railway passengers: Saad

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ISLAMABAD, Dec 30 (APP): Minister for Railways, Khawaja Saad Rafique on Wednesday said work was in progress to introduce an innovative e-ticketing system to facilitate millions of passengers travelling through this mode of communication.
Around 80 percent work on this system has been completed and expected to be operationlized by June next year, he said this at a briefing session, organized here by Pakistan Institute of Legislative and Development and Transparency (PILDAT) in connection with launch of a report entitled Pakistan Railways: A Performance Analysis.
The Session discussed performance of Pakistan Railways where key stakeholders evaluated Railways performance and offered recommendations and a way forward.
Chairman, National Assembly Standing Committee on Railways, Syed Naveed Qamar, Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak and some other legislators shared their perspectives on the occasion.
Obeying the proverb better late than never, he said Pakistan Railway besides taking numerous development measures would introduce e-ticketing system to improve ticketing and reservation through which Railway customers would be able to book seats online.
Short Messaging Service (SMS) to inform passengers about delay in passenger trains would also be introduced.
Highlighting the success story of Railways that had almost come to a halt during previous regime, Saad Rafique said Rs. 18 billion income was generated in financial year 2012-13 that increased to Rs. 23 billion in 2013-14.
In the current year, the department has been given target of Rs. 32 billion but we are expecting to touch Rs. 35 billion mark.
Similarly, he said the losses of Railways have been brought down from Rs. 32 billion to Rs. 27 billion, hoping it would further brought down to Rs. 24 billion.
Saad Rafique said the railways was creating history by launching new services and appreciated its management staff and workers who made it a success. He said though a lot had been done, there was still much more that was yet to be done.
He said work on the upgradation of 21 railway stations was
underway where modern facilities including petrol pumps and shopping malls would be provided and added four station have been given to a Chinese company for the purpose while 17 station are being upgraded by a local company.
The Minister said work has been started from Narowal railway station while Nankana Sahib and Hassan Abdal would also be upgraded.
He said addition of 20 million new passengers in last two years was a proof that people rely on the railway service.
He said there was an improvement in punctuality and the number of engines had increased from 160 to 280 and added not even a ‘marla’ of railways land had been sold, while 3,100 acre land had been recovered from land mafia and added the government of KPK facilitated Pakistan
Railways in releasing its land while other provinces were not
cooperating.
He said railways was not defaulter of any other organization and merit was being strictly adhered to in all affairs.
He specifically lauded the workers union for not interfering in the administrative affairs and for working hard to make their organization a success story.
The Information Technology (IT) and Human Resource areas in Pakistan Railways were also being strengthened through posting of professional staff and to bring improvement in service delivery and staff efficiency.
He further informed that engineering univerisites have been asked to introduce courses in railway specialization while Railways academies were also being upgraded to ensure modern training to employees.
He said the organization was writing a new chapter in its history by launching a new train service with all modern amenities and expressed the hope that it would soon turn into a profitable organization.
The Minister mentioned some freight trains from Karachi to other parts of the country as weekly number of such trains has reached 60 from mere 4 trains few years ago.  He also mentioned Green train between Islamabad and Karachi.
He said laying of double track between Lahore and Karachi, automatic signalling and express freight train would help the department not only in generating more revenues but also improve its capacity and services.
Syed Naveed Qamar and Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak appreciated Saad Rafique for bringing improvement in railway services and also floated recommendations to make it a profitable organization.
President, PILDAT, Ahmad Bilal Mahboob presented analysis on Performance of Pakistan Railways and said while major challenges remain for country’s largest passenger and freight network, the past two years since 2013 have shown improvement in performance of Railways.
Pakistan Railways earnings have increased and its punctuality rate is up from 53 % in 2013 to 70 % in 2015.

The Railways was able to exceed its targeted earnings during 2014-2015 and reduce its financial deficit.
These improvements have come about through larger investments in infrastructure development, purchase of new operational locomotives and an increase in quality of services.
However, the sustainability of this trend will depend on the political will of the top political leadership and continued dedication of the Railways team to the mission of turning this crucially-important state institution around.
PILDAT study in analyzing performance of Railways is an attempt to showcase state of affairs at this important institution and present to citizens and policy makers alike some of recommendations that can help ensure improvement.
The briefing session was followed by a discussion session where participants including parliamentarians, government officials, members of media and civil society discussed way forward for Railways.