Pakistan Railways has generated revenue worth Rs 5,269,315 through utilizing its 23 salons and inspection coaches for commercial purposes, during the last three years. “At present, Pakistan Railways has only 23 salons and inspection coaches with different dignitaries of the country who are entitled to use these salons when needed,” an official in the Ministry of Railways told APP. Giving the details, he said, “Two highly luxurious coaches have been allocated for the Prime Minister’s Secretariat while four coaches have been allocated for the Minister for Railways, Secretary/Chairman of Railways, and another senior official in the ministry.” The official said, “Only one salon has been allocated to the federal government while one each has been allocated to the Governors of Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, and the provincial governments.” In addition, eight salons had been allocated for the Railway Headquarters Lahore, in which one each would be marked to Chief Executive Officer/General Manager (BS-22), Additional General Manager BS-21, Inspector General Railway Police, Federal Government Inspector, and four salons were allocated for Principal Officers, he added. The official said six salons had been allocated for Divisional Superintendents of Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Quetta, Sukkur, Lahore, and Karachi. He said that the Principal Officers of Pakistan Railways were entitled to travel at these salons or inspection coaches only when they were travelling on duty. Above all, they said luxury salons were also available for private travel on a rental basis. The official said the salons were very luxurious and had two rooms, a bath, a dining area, and a kitchen like a tiny house on wheels with the availability of every facility. He said some of these salons were inspection coaches and their back wall was made of glass from where officers could view the track and surrounding area. “Pakistan Railways officers are not entitled to use this facility other than duty and all these salons are mostly 40-50 years old,” he added. Pakistan Railways has retrieved as many as 1,007 acres of its land worth millions of rupees from illegal occupants during various anti-encroachment operations across the country. “Around 491 acres retrieved in Punjab, 145 acres in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 339 acres in Sindh and only 32 acres in Balochistan,” an official in the Ministry of Railways told APP on Sunday. He said that about 3,287 acres in Punjab, 832 acres in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 5,180 acres in Sindh, and 687 acres of land in Balochistan were being encroached. The official said that in light of the directives of the Supreme Court, the anti-encroachment operations for retrieval of encroached railway land all over the Railway network were initiated and a joint procedure order was issued to all divisional superintendents for retrieval of Railways land from encroachment, adding, the anti-encroachment schedules, on a three months basis, are being prepared and sent to all concerned in line with the joint procedure order. He said that Pakistan Railways had also decided to accelerate its ongoing anti-encroachment operation against land grabbers across the country to recoup its land from different individuals, groups and even business organizations who were using it for residential, commercial and agriculture purposes for decades. “The encroachment operation will be launched with the assistance of Railway Police and district administrations of the relevant provincial governments,” he added. Pakistan Railways is spending Rs.1862.84 million for the rehabilitation of 518 kilometres of track between Kotri-Khanpur under the project of Immediate Track Safety Works (ITSW-I). Despite financial constraints, the management of Pakistan Railways is putting maximum efforts into improvement in infrastructure including tracks, bridges, stations etc, an official in the Ministry of Railways told APP. Under the project of rehabilitation of Karachi Port tracks, 24-kilometre tracks, 17 level crossings and seven bridges have been rehabilitated along with the replacement of turnouts. The official said that Railway Dry Ports at Lahore (Mughalpura), Badami Bagh and Azakhel have been upgraded. He said under the Immediate Track Safety Works (ITS W-II & IMTS W-III), the railway track between Tando Adam-Khanpur covering 456 kilometres would be rehabilitated at a cost of Rs. 4830.437 million and Rs.4875.461 million respectively by replacing the US components of the track by ensuring the safety of train operation. A PC-I amounting to Rs.4930.22 million for the rehabilitation of track machinery has been approved which would ensure quality of track maintenance work. Meanwhile, 11 stations have been upgraded including Peshawar, Hassan Abdal, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Lahore, Narowal, Nankana Sahib, Raiwind, Okara, Sahiwal, and Bahawalpur, under PSDP projects. The project of upgradation of Main Line-I at a cost of $6.683 billion has been negotiated with the Chinese side for completing the ML-1 in two phases consisting of four packages, he added. About the assets of Pakistan Railways are mainly related to the track (11881 kilometres), rolling stock (15699) etc and most of these assets have lived their useful life. Therefore, he said the department has taken several measures for efficient maintenance of these assets which included an increase in fiscal space for maintenance through transfer of pension, reduce utility bills through solarization, improving procurement management through prioritized procurement and an efficient fuel management system. He said the department is gradually shifting from manual to a mechanized track maintenance regime for enhanced productivity and quality while improved governance of the maintenance system through the introduction of IT-related interventions (ERP, etc) and provision of professional human resources was also among the top priorities. Regional Connectivity is an important aspect of the Pakistan Railway development framework. Presently, Pakistan Railway has planned to improve its functional links with regional countries including India and Iran, he added. Furthermore, the official said the following new rail links would be established including Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (UAP) Railway connectivity project through Kohat-Kharlachi.