ISLAMABAD, Jun 11 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said ML-1 (Main Line One) was an important project of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and directed to complete the restructuring of Pakistan Railways keeping the ML-1 project in view so as to create maximum opportunities for private sector partnership.

The prime minister stated this while chairing a review meeting regarding progress on the restructuring of Pakistan Railways. The meeting was attended by Minister for Planning Asad Umar, Information Minister Senator Sibli Faraz, Special Assistant to the PM on Information (SAPM) Lt Gen (r) Asim Saleem Bajwa, SAPM on Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain, Secretary Railways and senior officials.

The Secretary Railways briefed the prime minister about restructuring of the Pakistan Railways, automation and digitalization, better management of the Railways’ assets, progress on the ML-1 project, participation of private sector and various projects of the Pakistan Railways.

About facility of electronic ticketing, the prime minister directed to make arrangements for ensuring maximum provision of tickets to the passengers at their doorsteps. He said it was priority of the government to steer the Pakistan Railways out of losses and make it a profitable entity.

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The railway, he said, provided a secure and cheap mode of transportation to the people.

Imran Khan said the process of real change and restructuring of the Railways would be completed at that time when the people themselves would realize the change and would get benefit from it.

The prime minister was told that keeping in view the coronavirus situation, the Pakistan Railways had introduced train hospitals and special attention had been given to fully implement the standard operating procedures (SOPs) at the railway stations and in trains to avoid COVID-19.

He was also told that special attention had been given to the electronic ticketing system as presently 60 percent booking was being conducted through online system.

About partnership with the private sector, the meeting was informed that presently two trains had been handed over to the private sector and 15 more would be run with the public-private partnership. Similarly, two goods trains were also being run through pubic-private partnership and two more would also be handed over to the private sector.

To make sure the best use of Railways’ assets, the meeting was told that record of all the assets was being digitalized. About 25 places had been identified, which would be utilized through joint ventures to increase income of of Railways.

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The progress report about recovering of Railways land from the encroachers was also presented.

The meeting was told that in connection with the private sector partnership, 25 projects had been identified in the the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), which would be implemented with the help of private sector.

The prime minister while expressing satisfaction over the progress on restructuring of Pakistan Railways, directed that the process of appointment of chief operating officer (CEO) should be completed soon to make ensure better management in the department. He said experiences of local and overseas Pakistanis in that regard should also be availed.

Imran Khan while appreciating the step of management of trains by the private sector, directed that the process of handing over more 15 trains to the private sector should be completed soon.

The prime minister directed for giving special attention to make the railway stations situated in congested areas the centre of business activities.