Centre’s lack of interest ruining railways: Bilour

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Red tape and lack of interest on the part of the federal government has brought trains to a halt across the country. The federal cabinet approved a bailout package of Rs 11.1 billion for Pakistan Railways in December 2010, but the organisation did not get a single penny from Islamabad to date. Federal Minister for Railways Haji Ghulam Ahmad Balour passed the remarks while speaking at the inaugural ceremony of ‘Pak Business Express’, the first private sector-run train, at the Lahore Railway Station on Friday. Drawing the attention of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who was the chief guest on the occasion, Bilour underscored that railways was in a really bad shape due to financial constraints. He pointed out that despite the approval from the cabinet, the Finance Ministry did not issue funds to Pakistan Railways, which had resulted in almost all rail operations coming to a halt. He lamented that everybody compared Pakistan Railways with Indian Railways, without finding out the ground realities. He said India had some 8,300 locomotives while Pakistan had only 112 operational locomotives. “If the government had released the bailout amount on time, railways could have brought some 100 locomotives back on track,” he said. The minister pointed out that the government was giving only one favour to Pakistan Railways, that of paying the salaries to employees and pensioners that incurred a monthly expense of Rs 2.3 billion. However, if Islamabad cooperated with Pakistan Railways, it could stand on its feet, he added. Bilour underscored that railways had vast business potential, especially in freight operations.