NOWSHERA, Jan 10 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday said Pakistan Railways would be upgraded with far-reaching reforms in infrastructure and operational system to facilitate the common man as a major beneficiary.

“With emancipation of common people as central to my government’s policies, Pakistan Railways will witness immense uplift through mega projects,” he said in his address following the inauguration of Azakhel Dry Port, some eight kilometres from Nowshera.

The prime minister said the Azakhel Dry Port would provide quality transportation and logistic services.

Spread over 28 kilometres, the state-of-the-art dry port has been completed by Pakistan Railways with an estimated cost of Rs 507 million in a record one year time.

The prime minister lauded the efforts of Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad on the completion of the project pending since 2006 and also for Rs 10 billion revenue generation by Pakistan Railways last year.

He said the Main Line rail track, commonly known as ML-1, to be built with collaboration of China, would prove to be a revolution in the country’s railway system.

Karachi-Peshwar train on ML-1 would complete journey in eight hours, besides other benefits in shape of swift transportation of freight, he added.

Imran Khan stressed that both Pakistan Railways and the national flag career Pakistan International Airlines needed to come forward in competition with the private sector.

“Several corporations have become a burden on the national exchequer and need competitive approach to survive and thrive,” he stressed.

The prime minister asked the employees and workers of Pakistan Railways to work diligently and act unitedly against corruption.

“I want you to run Pakistan Railways with same care and concern which you attach for your own vehicle,” he said.

He said the land of Pakistan Railways would be rid of illegal occupation to get it commercialized to bridge its deficit.

Imran Khan said the biggest challenge for his government was to make Pakistan a welfare state for the emancipation of downtrodden, terming 2020 the year of employment and progress. In that respect he mentioned Ehsaas, the country’s largest ever social welfare programme, which which Rs 190 billion had been allocated for loans, skill training, 50,000 higher education scholarships and health cards.

He said the government would construct five million affordable houses to accommodate low-income groups and the step would benefit 40 affiliated industries.

He regretted the ‘governments of elites’ in the past neglected major civic areas, including education, health, legal system and railways.

Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad announced to rename the dry port as Pir Piyai Azakhel for its acceptance by majority in the area.

He mentioned about an agreement with the National Logistic Cell (NLC) to include Pehswar-Jalalabad track in ML-1, which, he said, would end smuggling. It would also ensure employment for 0.1 million as 92 percent jobs had been reserved for Pakistanis, he added.

He said Pakistan was the sole country in the world for being profit-earning from passenger trains, adding that Pakistan Railways witnessed an increase of 0.7 million passengers last year.

Sheikh Rashid said under an open policy, Pakistan Railways had given three freight trains and 11 passenger trains to the private sector.

He said the PC-1of ML-1 had been submitted to Planning Minister Asad Umer. There would be no crossing at the 1872-kilometre-long ML-1, he added.

He said the railway system would be computerized with trackers installed for geo-tracking.
Defence Minister Pervez Khattak lauded Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad for the completion of dry port project and requested him to allow laying of gas and irrigation pipelines for the area through lands property of Pakistan Railways.

He mentioned that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government had resolved up to 80 percent problems of Nowshera.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan also attended the event.