The annual deficit of Pakistan Railways increased to Rs 46 billion in 2020

Total workforce in Railways reduced to 67627 workers 

 

Sheikh Rashid made tall claims to reduce the deficit in Railways during his stint as railway minister. But all the claims of improving the services and financial matters in Railways proved just a rhetoric. The recent report on Pakistan Railways exposed the tall claims of PTI government to transforming Railways. 

The coronavirus also played its part in the increase in deficit. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the railways to suspend its operations for more than two months. The railways has not been able to fully resume the services during 2020. many trains are still suspended and not running.

Pakistan Railways also facing severe shortage of technical staff to properly run the trains. In last two decades very few new appointments were made while experienced workforce retired during that period.    

The Pakistan Railways deficit increased by Rs11 billion in 2020, from Rs35 billion to Rs46 billion revealed in an annual report. The report revealed that the Railways has fewer employees and more ex-workers who are now pensioners. According to the report, the employees have reduced to 67,627.

Even though, deficit is not the only criteria to judge the performance of a public service providing department. There are other important factors to consider before drawing the conclusion. The real problem is that no real effort was made to run railways on modern lines to improve the quality of services. no effort was made to expand the network and to made productive investment in the railways. 

The Railways has to pay a whopping Rs31.42 billion to pensioners and has to allocate another Rs28.21 billion for its employees. The report showed that the number of railway locomotives, passenger coaches, and freight coaches also decreased.

The number of railway locomotives has gone down from 478 to 472, while the coaches have reduced from 1,460 to 1,378, the report stated.

The freight vehicles have gone down from 16,159 to 14,327, the report added. Meanwhile, on a positive note, the number of railway stations and passengers increased during the year 2020, the report added.

Apart from this report, the newly appointed Railway minister Azam Swati has also said that without modernising the railways we will be forced to shutdown the department like Pakistan Steel mills. the Victorian system cannot work in modern age. The minister further said that “I am admitting being the minister that we can’t run the entire railway. We will have to outsource some of its tiers, some parts.

If a few PR wings were not outsourced, then the department would have to be shut down like the Pakistan Steel Mills." The minister however clarified that the railways would not be privatised at all.

Pakistan needs to learn from China how to transform the railways network. The outsourcing is not the solution to the problems of railways. Railway needs public investment to upgrade the infrastructure and improve the services. Railways need overhauling in the management model. 

                                         Rukhsana Manzoor deputy editor

 


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