The Pakistan Railways on Monday signed an agreement with two Chinese companies – M/s Easyway and M/s Norinco International Cooperation — for launch of Railway Automated Booking and Travel Assistance (RABTA). Talking to the media at Railways Headquarters here, Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique termed the initiative a win-win situation for the department. He said that M/s Easyway Company and M/s Norinco were doing joint venture. Saad Rafique said the initiative would help passengers plan their journey from their homes. The application would help passengers manage their tickets, seats, booking, food, hotel and taxi related matters, he added. The minister said, “This IT-based solution is not only for passengers’ facilitation but for maintaining Railways income record earned through ticketing.” He said that under the application, parcel booking and tracking facility would be available whereas passengers would also be to access trains operation management system. Saad Rafique said the initiative was based on revenue sharing. He termed RABTA an important step to modernise railways operation. He said that soon train would be operated on Sibi-Harnai section, which he added would have positive impact on the economy of four districts there. He said a sub office of railways had been opened in Gwadar adding that no port could work efficiently without railways. He said that efforts were being made to minimise or overcome delay in pension and salaries issue. Kh Saad Rafique said that railways furnace would be operational by the month of April. Regarding railways shops, he said that policy was being made in this regard, adding that “besides earning revenue, we have to provide employment opportunities as well”. Trains were also being evaluated as their upgradation was needed, he added. About Main Line-1, the minister said that 40 per cent cost cutting of the project would make it viable.