Railway tracks need upgradation as CPEC would increase economic activity: Pakistani Minister

Lahore:  Pakistani Minister for Pakistani Railways Azam Khan Swati has said that the railways tracks in the country needed to be upgraded as economic activities would increase due to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

“Economic activities are expected to increase due to the CPEC, so the railway track needs to be upgraded. New projects should be launched in collaboration with the private sector to modernize Pakistan Railways,” Swati said in a meeting with a delegation of the Lahore Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), according to a news release.

Swati said that e-tracking of cargo trains will be started soon while a cargo center will be set up in the Kot Lakhpat area of Lahore in collaboration with the private sector.

He assured the LCCI delegation that Pakistan Railways (PR) was ready for joint ventures with the private sector. “Prime Minister Imran Khan wants to provide all possible facilities to the business community and economic stability. The PR is activating dry ports to promote business activities,” he said.

The minister said upgrading the railways was essential to boost Pakistan’s economy and reduce the cost of imports and exports.

“The private sector should start projects on the land of PR under partnership as the land of the railways will not be sold but leased,”  he added.

During the meeting, LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbah expressed the hope that the situation would improve significantly after the completion of the CPEC’s Main Line 1 (ML-1) project as the Pakistan Railways had become a very important mode of transportation and rail cargo service was cheaper than other means.

He went on to say that providing better services will benefit the business community more and reduce business costs. He stated that due to the non-availability of cargo wagons in recent times, traders have had to transport goods by trucks, which was sometimes three times more expensive than train cargo service.

Misbah informed the minister that both bonded and non-bonded containers were used for transportation while PR should give preference only to bonded containers.

“Merchants are given five to seven days to clear consignments and this time should be extended to fifteen days,” he said, adding the shipments were delayed due to slow cargo trains and traders had to bear the demurrages.