The Senate Standing Committee on Railways in its meeting on Wednesday, discussed incidences of train derailments and collisions in the past one month. It also discussed in details of profits and losses of freight trains and Gwadar, Quetta, Zhob, Kohat tracks. The Committee was briefed in extreme detail by Senator Lt. Gen (Retd) Adul Qayyum regarding the revival of the Mandra-Chakwal Railway line.
Chaired by Senator Asad Ali Khan Junejo, the meeting was attended by Senator Mirza Khushbakht Shujat, Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak, Senator Imamuddin Shouqeen, Senator Dr. Jehanzeb Jamaldini, Senator Liaqat Khan Tarakai and senior officers of the Ministry of Railways along with all concerned.
The Committee, while discussing the details of accidents in the past one month was informed by the Ministry that four accidents occurred out of which three were due to human errors and one on account of natural circumstances. No loss of life was reported. The Committee stressed the need for measures to be taken to ensure passenger safety. Establishment of a Health and Safety Department was stressed.
During consideration of Point of Public Importance raised by Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak regarding profits/loss of freight trains, He proposed that uniform fares be charged throughout the country for the benefit of the people via cross-subsidy. The Committee directed that a feasibility study is conducted regarding the proposition to ensure that, as a result, Pakistan Railways does not run into losses. While discussing plans on starting container cargo to KPK and to make Azakhel dry port successful, the Committee was informed that return of empty containers from Azakhel Dry Port to Karachi has already begun from 04 August, 2020. In addition to this, PRFTC plans to export cargo rom Azakhel Dry Port and intends to develop Consolidation House at Azakhel Dry Port for the purpose to facilitate export of products from KPK.
While taking up starred question regarding Gwadar to Quetta, Quetta to Zhob and Zhob to Kohat and Kohat to Peshawar Railway Lines, the Committee was informed that under CPEC there will be a new Railway Line from Quetta to Kotia Jam on ML 2 via hob and DI Khan (560 Km). For this connectivity, PR has 328 Km of right of way out of 560 km and for rest land will be acquired. By this rail link Quetta will be connected with Kohat via Khundia-Jhand and with Peshawar via Attock City. Construction of this rail connectivity can be offered on BOT basis if Pakistan Railways lacks resources.
While considering the Point of Public Importance regarding the revival of the Mandra-Chakwal Railway Line, the Committee was briefed by Senator Lt. Gen (Rtd.) Abdul Qayyum in detail about the feasibility of the project. He asserted that this 75 km line which is more than a century old, once revived will be of extreme public, commercial and strategic importance especially in the context of CPEC. It was also asserted that the line would move in close proximity of a strategic air base and couple of military garrisons critical for Pakistan’s security. Senator Lt. Gen (Rtd.) Abdul Qayyum informed the Committee, that this line touched a dozen railway stations which are now deserted. Besides there are five Cement factories in the vicinity producing 32000 tons of cement every day. This rail link he said would not only promote business and improve work opportunities for locals but also save road infrastructure from destruction of heavy loads. In addition to this, he asserted that this would be a huge service to thousands of people regularly travelling through this line for work purposes. The Committee lauded the proposal and recommended strongly that Pakistan Railway must prioritize it; funding for which could be sought via BOT. Chairman Committee, Senator Muhammad Asad Ali Khan Junejo recommended that the Ministry while conducting feasibility studies for the project must take Senator Lt. Gen (Rtd.) Abdul Qayyum on board. The Ministry assured the Committee of all out support for the project and said that a Consultant will be hired for the project within three weeks. Railway Ministery was asked to give progress afters three months
The Ministry was directed to present a report on the closure of Budhal Express running from Rohri to Jacobabad and back in the next meeting.